Although we didn’t manage to land the double, a 14/1 (BALKO DES FLOS) & 11/1 (MISSED APPROACH) made it a solid day in the end.
It’s been some festival in terms of drama, close finishes and a complete Irish domination. We lead 15-6 going in the BetBright Cup and need 5 winners today to beat last year’s record total of 19. Let’s see can we do it.
Here we go for the fourth and final day.
1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
The Grade 1 for juveniles is the first race on the card and is normally a very competitive race. However, the antepost market has had a consistent favourite throughout in APPLE’S SHAKIRA (sister to APPLES JADE). She has been foot perfect with a 3 from 3 record, with all those wins coming at Cheltenham under similar conditions to today.
She ticks all the boxes and most definitely carries the best form of the race. With the same winning connections from last year, I expect her to win. 7lb mares allowance is also a massive plus.
APPLE’S SHAKIRA to get us off to a flyer.
Selection: APPLE’S SHAKIRA 13/8 (NAP)
2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
When the favourite is a 10/1 shot at the time of writing then you know you’re looking at a competitive race. I would keep stakes very small here.
A horse I initially fancied for this race a couple of weeks ago was IVANOVICH GORBATOV but the ground has gone against him. With a lot of Mullins and Elliot horses at the top of the market, half the battle is deciding between their runners who all have great chances.
On that basis I’m going for a bit of a punt on CHESTERFIELD. He was won at Cheltenham before and this ground and trip won’t be a concern. Ran well last Spring so chances are he’ll be primed for this race and at 18/1 with 6 places available, he’s worth backing each way.
Selection: CHESTERFIELD 18/1 ew
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
The common theme watching a lot of previews for this race is how it becomes a war of attrition and that’s certainly been the case in recent years. For many novices this will be the first time running over 3 miles. For example, if you look at the favourite SANTINI, he has had 2 runs over hurdles both 2 and a half miles. You need a horse who is battle hardened as opposed to a superstar in this race.
That leaves me with CALETT MAD, a horse I’ve had backed for a couple of weeks. He has 15 races to his name already so brings that experience as well as winning nicely last time at Musselburgh. He actually ran in the National Hunt Chase last year so will definitely stay.
While again not having the class as some of these horses, he could end up being in the frame and at 16/1 4 places, he looks a very good bet.
Selection: CALETT MAD 16/1 ew
3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)
ROAD TO RESPECT is a horse I’ve liked since he won the Leopardstown Chase back in December. Connections decided against sending him to the Irish Gold Cup so he comes here fresh.
There have been questions raised about his stamina and the ground but I see no reason why either will be a worry. He won a Grade 3 at Punchestown over 3m1f on soft ground this season which is the furthest he has run. This has always been his target and he is a horse who is improving with each run.
He also has course form winning the Brown Advisory Plate last year. On official ratings in this race he is second only to MIGHT BITE so his performance back in December is thought of very highly. Second that day was BALKO DES FLOS who won the Ryanair yesterday and third was OUTLANDER who was 2nd in the Irish Gold Cup.
It’s a massive step up but I believe he is a cracking price at 12/1, with up to 5 places available in what is a very open Gold Cup.
Selection: ROAD TO RESPECT 12/1 ew
4.10 St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
Out of all these horses, the most unexposed would probably be BURNING AMBITION. I was very impressed with his run last time out when he was 2nd to GLIGAMBOA. He will love these conditions and would have been targeting this race all year. He is the youngest horse in the race so is taking on a lot of older horses but if he takes to the course he could be a player.
You need a lot of luck to win this race so backing the favourite might not necessarily be a wise move here. However, I think he’s worth taking the chance on being able to bring out further improvement and with Jamie Codd on board, he can run a massive race.
Selection: BURNING AMBITION 7/2
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
The last two races are particularly difficult so take it easy with staking.
Gordan Elliot has had an unbelievable festival and I believe SIRE DU BERLAIS is his best chance in the Martin Pipe. Came 2nd in Fairyhouse and is potentially very well handicapped coming into this.
He wears a tongue tie for the first time and Donal McInerney is booked to ride. With 5 places available, I think he’ll run a big race.
Selection: SIRE DU BERLAIS 10/1 ew
5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
DON’T TOUCH IT, trained by Jessica Harrington, has been targeted for this race all year. She spoke very highly of this horse at the stable tours and is well fancied. There is a slight concern on the ground for me and at the prices I will leave him. It’s a tough renewal as you could make a case for a lot at the top end of the market.
So I’ve decided to side with BOUVREUIL. His Cheltenham Festival record for the last 3 years reads 3rd, 2nd and 2nd. His overall win rate would be a concern but I believe he’s at his optimum trip over 2 miles and this race could suit him. He could give Paul Nicholls a much needed victory.
Selection: BOUVREUIL 14/1 ew
1.30 Apple’s Shakira 13/8 (NAP)
2.10 Chesterfield 18/1 ew
2.50 Calett Mad 16/1 ew
3.30 Road to Respect 12/1 ew (NB)
4.10 Burning Ambition 7/2
4.50 Sire Du Berlais 10/1 ew
5.30 Bouvreuil 14/1 ew
DOUBLE: Apple’s Shakira & Road to Respect
EW Trixie: Chesterfield, Calett Mad & Sire Du Berlais