Friday, 16 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival 2018 Day Four: Offer The Bookies No Respect In Gold Cup Battle

Another fantastic Cheltenham Festival comes to a close on Friday with the Triumph Hurdle getting us underway and the Grand Annual marking the end of another frantic four days.
All eyes though are on the 3.30 race when 18 line up for what looks like a testing and competitive Gold Cup.  Given the conditions and the lack of a Denman or Best Mate we may be able to swerve the favourites and land a big win at a nice price in the feature race.

1.30 (Triumph Hurdle) – STORMY IRELAND

The form of Farclas and Mr Adjudicator may be better than it looks while favourite Apple’s Shakira is some people’s idea of a banker but I don’t fancy any of that form if I’m honest.  Redicean can go really well for Alan King and could prove the value among the jollies but the one for me will be this Stormy Ireland who won with his head in his chest at Fairyhouse and can go in again.

2.10 (County Hurdle) – FLYING TIGER

Nick Williams’ contender has been running in better races than this and they think a lot of him at home.  His handicap mark doesn’t really reflect the efforts he’s given in graded races though and he may well go on and take this ahead of the interesting Willie Mullins duo of Meri Devie and Sandsend who both look like big improvers going into the race.

2.50 (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle) – CHEF DES OBEAUX

Nicky Henderson holds a very strong hand this year with market leaders Chef Des Obeaux and Santini.  Many fancy the latter named but the distance is a worry for me given his strength over 2m4f, while Chef Des Obeaux definitely stays and is himself still getting better with every run.
Chris’s Dream and Poetic Rhythm may well run on for place money but the trophy and a good chunk of the prize money should be heading back to Henderson’s yard and well deserved it will be too.

3.30 (Gold Cup) – ROAD TO RESPECT

The fact that this could be the most testing Gold Cup for years brings Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red right into play, though despite the soft ground I feel he may lack a turn of foot when the race gets interesting.  Our Duke and Kilultagh Vic are contenders but are probably just a few pounds behind the main trio.
That trio for me are the well touted Mite Bite and Native River along with our selection Road To Respect.  Might Bite has proper credentials being a festival winner last year (RSA Chase) and this season a King George winner too.  Native River was third in this last year and looks a better horse now but we will stick with our Leopardstown Christmas Chase form which gave us an 8/1 winner yesterday.
Balko Des Flos followed home Road To Respect that day before easily beating hotpot Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase here on Thursday and that form looks rock solid.  Our horse is still improving, stays well and handles the ground and could be crowned champion for Noel Meade and Gigginstown Stud.

4.10 (Foxhunter Challenge Cup) – FOXROCK

Likely shortish priced favourite Burning Ambition will be the one most punters follow and it’ll be no real surprise to see that one win, however Alan Fleming’s Foxrock has all the credentials for this and has one of the best jockeys available on board too.
Wonderful Charm and Caid Du Berlais should also be popular in the ring and should run on for place money, all things being equal.

4.50 (Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle) – BLOW BY BLOW

We have a strongly fancied favourite here in the shame of Diese Des Bieffes and to be fair he has a massive chance along with Mr Big Shot and Sire Du Berlais but it’s the ease with which he won last time that sets Blow By Blow Apart and despite going up sharply in the weights he looks to have a winning opportunity.

5.30 (Grand Annual) – NORTH HILL HARVEY

Our horse may be backed into favouritism by the time the race goes off and is expected to provide Dan and Harry Skelton with a well deserved festival winner in the finale.  Vaniteux looks the main danger so long as he comes back to form as expected after his surgery, while both Dolos and Le Prezien hold place chances for the Paul Nicholls team who could really do with a big win.

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