I am delighted to introduce my next guest blogger who does an admirable job in his role as Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA (http://www.scottishspca.org/) a Charity that is going from strength to strength leading animal welfare in Scotland (I suspect after yesterday's guest he might be looking for volunteers to set up a branch in Kabul - any takers?). I have always been rather flattered that someone who spends his life working to improve the welfare of animals is happy to entrust me with the care of his own horses, I am also flattered by (some of!) his kind words below, then again, its amazing how nice people will be if Mrs A plies them with enough bacon rolls...........(he is also rather a good tipster & his selections for next week feature at the end)
'Inspired by Harold I was enthused to put forward a Guest Blog for Mr Alexander.
I haven't had the formidable task of chopping through the forestry atop the trainers head like Harold but now I come to think of it I first met the trainer in September 2007 at Perth which must have been shortly after one his biannual visits to Harold as there was no excessive topiary peering out from beneath his hat.
Lulled into this false sense of security we fell for the charms of Mr and Mrs Alexander and pretty soon found ourselves with a share of Art Investor a good looking bat gelding out of Sindarr. As the months progressed we noticed the alarming growth of shrubbery upon Mr Alexander's head but all became normal just before Cheltenham and at least we now know the reasons why.
Unfortunately Art Investor proved to be not a very good financial investment, but the return on investment from a fun perspective was wonderful and we were smitten.
Having found a good new home for Art Investor we went the whole hog and bought Smart Cavalier, an older horse with good prospects. Unfortunately Smartie sustained an injury in racing and had to spend a few months resting at our livery yard. Our intention was always to provide Smartie with a happy retirement at our place and he is such a wonderful and affectionate horse that rather than risk him again on the racecourse with this injury in the background we accelerated his retirement and now even I can ride him.
Once again the Alexander charm was turned on (although truth be told I’m not sure if there is an off switch) and further temptations were dangled before us and we now have a share in three horses. Forcefield, Four Fiddlers, and Alf (who has yet to be given a racing name).
To our amazement we have actually won some prize money now and have won considerable sums by betting on the horses!
I say amazement when winning prize money because we really don't expect and don't budget to win money and we are really are in this because we love the sport, we love the horses and whilst I've no intention of saying we love the trainer in public we do love having the privilege of visiting the trainer and the Alexander clan and joining him on the gallops. Indeed part of the fun of having race horses is Mr Alexander and the long suffering Mrs Alexander and all that brings.
One of the things that having your horses with Nick brings is constant entertainment and an interesting insight into sartorial elegance for trainers. Just last Saturday Nick sported a wonderful green pullover which I greatly admired. One of the very high tec and dare I say it trendy aspects of this ensemble was the clever holes in the elbow to provide cooling in warm weather. Just for clarity when I say holes that’s a slight understatement as there was really no elbow left to speak of, or really any pullover for about 2 inches above or below the elbow. As well as the cunningly designed elbow holes there were equally impressive asymmetric cooling vents on the chest and back. In addition to this fashionable ensemble Mr Alexander has been known to sport a pair of red cords on course, something which I support 100% as I have my own pair. Unfortunately Mrs Earley disowned both the trainer and myself when we arrived at Kelso for a race and found that both of us were wearing red cords, green/grey jackets and trilbys. Neither of us had colluded but Mrs Earley decided we looked too much like Tweedledee and Tweedledum (although that was slightly unfair on Nick as we are completely different shapes I could possibly balance two Nicks on a seesaw) and kept her distance.
Just as Harold ended with a thought for the Cheltenham Festival I'll try to do the same, but I'm conscious that there is still some time to go and horses have multiple entries and I've only really thought about the first few races.
In the Supreme novices if Willie Mullins runs Day In A Lifetime then he may well have a big price of around 20/1 and could well place or even win so a good each way bet.
In the Arkle Medermit or Starluck could be the best options.
In the Champion Hurdle sometimes it’s the forgotten horse that come through like Punjabi in 2009. That was a Nicky Henderson horse and his potential forgotten horse this year could be Oscar Whisky. The other horse with real claims and a good price is Mille Chief. Pundits will claim he has no chance as he is a five year old and only one 5 year old has won the Champion Hurdle in recent years, but that was Katchit, also trained by Alan King so I still have hopes for Mille Chief.
Two other horses that I am very enthusiastic about are:
Sizing Europe - if he runs in the Queen Mother Champion Chase should at least place so another good each way bet.
Cross Kennon - due to run in the World Hurdle and whilst Big Bucks or Grand Crus should win Cross Kennon is capable of placing at a big price.
That my Guest Blog over with but in closing I would say you should never trust people’s tips, especially at Cheltenham without doing your own home work.
But my best tip of all would be that if you want to have a share in a racehorse irrespective of how it performs you will have a lot of fun if you have the great good fortune to have Nick as your trainer.