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You can almost hear it now . . .  the famous roar of Cheltenham: From The Dragon’s Mouth #4

You can almost hear it now . . .  the famous roar of Cheltenham, voices joined in unison, ready for the tapes lifting in the Supreme.

It’s hard to think of anything else at present and it’s a welcome distraction from the heartbreaking performances put in by the Welsh rugby team after week two of the Six Nations.

Talking of heartbreak, that’s what we suffered this week on the site.

All had been going well, but the wheels came off on Sunday when almost every bet we took was for a winner.

It was topped off by an expensive Super Bowl result.

If you’re one of the punters who had a touch on Sunday, well done. Good picking. But remember . . . you’re only borrowing it!

On Monday, news (and hearts) broke with the announcement that Allaho will be missing the festival.

He would have been a banker on many an ante-post betting slip up and down the country and it now throws the Thursday’s Ryanair Chase wide open.

Last week, I mentioned that I thought Blue Lord was crying out for a step up in trip after his Dublin Racing Festival defeat and surely now the Mullins stable will be looking to run him as a more than able sub.

Sticking with the Ryanair, a somewhat surprise entry – to me, at least – is Shiskin.

He’s a doubtful stayer, who I believe will forever be marked by that famous duel with Energumene in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last year. Races like that leave scars and it’s often the case that those scars never quite go away.

Shiskin is set to re-appear at ground zero of that battle field on Saturday with the Betfair Ascot Chase and to keep up the so far successful three out of three Dragon’s Mouth lays, he’s the weekend fav to take on.

I don’t see him anywhere near value at the current odds and I can’t wait to fill the satchel with him before I press up again at Cheltenham (that is, if he doesn’t run so badly they finally see sense and put him in a more fitting race).

Suddenly, with that loss at Cheltenahm the Energumene form doesn’t look as bomb-proof as it once was. The scars from that epic battle last year, and stamina doubts, too, as well as the trainer trying a tongue tie for the first time as he’s obviously aware of breathing problems.

Time to “fill the bag” as us men of the turf say!

Saturday gone also gave us the chance to see Shiskin’s stable companion and leading British hope for the Arkle compete in the Kingmaker Chase at Warwick on Saturday – the much-touted Jonbon.

Now, it’s not like bookmakers to moan, but . . . to get just two runners turn up for a race of such profile on Saturday gives an indication of the sport’s current health and sharper minds than mine need to address some deep-rooted issues within racing or we’re in danger of turning off all but the hardcore supporters of the sport.

Anyway, back to Jonbon. He won, but had to work harder than expected in the process.

In my view, he’s always been a horse that people are backing as a result of the hype rather than hard form.

He does have good form in the book but perhaps not enough to merit the hysteria, and, as a bookie, these are the horses you can lay ‘cheap’ i.e. at short odds.

In the long run that’s a strategy that pays. Fingers crossed it’ll pay in about five weeks’ time when he gets beaten in the Arkle.

So that’s it for this week.

Good luck if you’re having a bet and feel free to give me some grief when Shiskin inevitably sh**s-in on Saturday!

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