Cheltenham Day Three Blog - Kate Miller
And so I join you from the sofa after what can only be described as another day in paradise at the Cheltenham Festival.
I don't want to say the Festival has been lacking this year, because that would be an outrageous lie, but I had yet to pinpoint my definitive 2011 moment of the Cheltenham Festival.
I have one every year. Last year it was Binocular winning the Champion Hurdle, the year before Kauto Star's stat-busting Gold Cup, my list is pretty much endless. This year though, it's all about Big Buck's and Grand Crus. And what a race we were gifted.
I am fairly certain if they ran the race another 50 times the result would remain the same, but the Pipes' - incredible tacticians that they are - got the strategy spot-on. In the end though, Grand Crus was simply beaten by a weapon. We have answered the question now that Big Buck's simply is the greatest staying hurdler of the modern era.
He'll never probably be rated as highly as he deserves by merit of his minimal-winning distances, but there is little doubt in my mind that in a line-up including Baracouda, Galmoy, Derring RosInglis Drever, and Iris's Gift, there would only be one winner, and his initials would be B.B.
If I am being honest, I'd dearly love to see him line-up in a Champion Hurdle. I've been dismissed as foolhardy with my thought as he's apparently 'too slow', but I just think the way he jumps and travels he could be so interesting against the big-guns over two-miles. His hurdling actually gets better when it gets to the business-end of the race, the faster they go, the slicker it gets. Can you imagine him, Hurricane and Binocular jumping the last together? The roof would come off the Panoramic Restuarant!
Speaking frankly, the Thursday is probably my least-favourite day of the Festival. That's a bit like saying a Yorkie is my 'least' favourite chocolate bar, because at times I am a bit of an Augustus Gloop when it comes to chocolate, but everyone has to have their least-favourite day, and Thursday is mine.
I think it is those handicaps on the card a bit hard to love. The Byrne Group Plate is a bitch of a handicap isn't it - i've seen algorithms that look less complicated. The Pertemps requires 85-hours of video-watching to spot the winner (although Buena Vista rocks my world - what a horse!), and the Kim Muir to finish? Junior has turned himself into a model of consistency of late, and he was fairly easy to find but it isn't always that obvious, I think I just find the Thursday the one day I'd be only mildly miffed to have to miss. The rest I'd be inconsolable about.
I am lingering too long on today's events and I should be savouring the build-up to tomorrow. I find the Gold Cup fascinating. In my heart of hearts and as much as it pains me to turn away from Kauto Star, I think Long Run will probably win. There are question marks over all four of the main contenders. Imperial Commander has had such a difficult prep. Long Run MAY not really act to his best around Cheltenham, and Kauto Star and Denman are both entering their racing dotage.
However, If there are two horses, ever, in the history of National Hunt Racing to defy statistics, it is the Ditcheat duo though. Kauto Star - who back in 2009 became the first horse to retain the Gold Cup in non-consecutive years, and has defied logic by dominating Grade One fields over two miles right-up to three-and-a-quarter miles? AND has won four consecutive King Georges?
Denman - who had poison injected into his body to regain a regular heart rhythm? Returned to slug it out amongst the best staying handicappers of 2009 and carry top weight to win the Hennessy?
I'm not saying it will happen, i'm just saying don't be a doubter just yet. This pair are not just any older Gold Cup contenders. These are astonishing, breath-taking, and incredible older Gold Cup contenders. If there were ever two horses who could defy the statistics, battle hard and take Gold one last time, it is Denman and Kauto Star.
Bring it on.