March 27, 2007 at 12:51 #1236apracingParticipant
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<br>I’ve long held the view that Cheltenham has one good chase track and one rubbish, one good hurdle track and one rubbish.
Chasing first – the New Course, used for the Gold Cup, is top class, with a decent run from the home bend to the second last, two fences in the straight, no trap fences and seems fair to both front runners and strong finishers.
The Old Course has a short home straight with only one fence, a horrible second last, a not very good third last and the fence in front of the Best Mate enclosure that is too close to bend that follows it. The second last must be just about the worst fence in the country – watch the Arkle finish. NWDS goes through the top of the fence and stays upright, whilst his two challengers both jump the fence cleanly and crumple on landing.
It simply isn’t a satisfactory course for championship chases, especially over 2M.
Over hurdles, the New Course isn’t suitable for top class races because the third last hurdle is much too far from the finish and the run from the second last to the last makes it too easy for strong finishers. Front runners have an almost impossible job on this course.
The Old Course is better over hurdles, with the gaps between hurdles much more even all round and the second last, although tricky, doesn’t seem to cause so many problems as the equivalent fence.
In an ideal world, I’d like to see all the Festival chases run on the New Course and all the hurdle races on the Old Course, to provide the best and fairest track for all the races. But I’ve no doubt Cheltenham will argue that’s impossible.
So how about a complete switch of the Wednesday and Thursday cards as currently run. That would move the Champion Chase and the Sun Alliance to the New Course, putting the Sun Alliance on the same track as the Gold Cup and making it a better trial for that race.
It would also move the World Hurdle and Pertemps Final to the Old Course, returning them to the status of a proper stamina test, as opposed the sub 3M distance they are run over on the New Course.
Dream on ……..
<br>March 27, 2007 at 16:05 #48765WallaceParticipant
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I’m sure you feel better now you have written this! The problem is racecourse management don’t care about logical and reasoned proposals.
Certainly having races spoilt by poorly positioned jumps is not good for the sport especially championship races. The second last fence on the old course is a shocker and something should have been done about this years ago.
There are a lot of other examples around the country but Cheltenham certainly should provide true championship races. <br>March 27, 2007 at 16:20 #48768noreMember
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I think what AP says is particularly true in respect of the New hurdles course. The long sections on the flat late in the race make it a difficult course for jockeys to ride, I believe, let alone punters to bet on. Would Black Harry and Osana have won their respective races had they been run on the Old Course? They both certainly ran well against the bias.
It could be argued that there is a shape of race-track which provides optimum conditions for horses to race. On the Flat I am always wary of courses with finishing straights much longer than two furlongs. It’s said that horses can only sustain their top speed for two furlongs so it must be ideal if a turn takes the pace out of a race inside the final half-mile with the straightening up providing the cue to go for the final effort. In terms of Irish Flat racing I find that the Curragh, Cork and Limerick can produce messy finishes and false results for this reason, especially in handicaps where pounds and lengths can be lost by ill-judged finishing moves. I see Leopardstown as being ideal as a Flat track.
Similarly with jump racing the second-last is often the cue for the final move and this could be said to be true of Cheltenham’s Old hurdles course. If the jockey takes this idea onto the New course the outcome can be less pleasant eg. Osana in the County Hurdle.
(Edited by nore at 5:23 pm on Mar. 27, 2007)March 27, 2007 at 18:16 #48770FriggoMember
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I’m not too sure either way about the hurdles course, but I am in complete aggreance with you on the chase course. I think having the second last before the horses even turn for home is nigh on ridiculous, especially for longer chases. Imagine the 3rd last in the GC being the 2nd last? I don’t think so. It would severely detract from the quality of race, both as a definitive test of the greatest staying chasers in the country, and as a spectacle.
Remember New Years’ Day last year, when Fondmort won the Unicom with something like 5 or 6 fences omitted? You saw how much of a farce that finish looked, as much as it had to be done.March 29, 2007 at 10:05 #48771colinfMember
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I’m not sure Leopardstown is ideal as a flat track for 7/8f races with more than 10 runners. With a lot of the race on the turn and resulting traffic problems it is difficult to come from behind or a wide box.<br>I’m not sure how much the ‘Chester’ rail helps either.
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