It’s the big day at Cheltenham Festival 2018 and I hope you enjoy my preview and tips for Gold Cup Day below. A nice 12/1 winner yesterday so let’s hope for more of the same today.
1.30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo):
Stormy Ireland didn’t beat much on debut at Fairyhouse but when she did it she was so impressive one could only heave been left with the impression that she was a graded horse who could go to the very top and what’s more she has a huge amount of form on testing ground. Apple’s Shakira will love the surface and has been an impressive winner of her three starts over course and distance, always engaging overdrive up the home straight in testing ground. The form of her three wins has been franked via the Fred Winter and there’s plenty to like about her chances although she is short. Mr Adjudicator and Farclas were impressive when finishing 1-2 in the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown and if they handle softer conditions then they will take a huge amount of beating. Farclas’s form on testing surfaces isn’t as strong as the favourites but he has had just the two runs and this course ought to suit him a lot more than Leopardstown did. He might be an each/way bet still. Sussex Ranger now doesn’t have to deal with We Have A Dream and does handle this ground so need sot be considered whilst Redician’s big question is if he transfers his form from the flat surface of Kempton to this most testing course; should he do so, he’s going to go well.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Stormy Ireland (11/2 general), 1 pt each/way Farclas (15/2 general)
2.10 – (New) Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+):
It’s not original but Bleu Et Rouge was second only to Kalashnikov in the Betfair on awful ground and the handicapper was probably right to give him 8lbs given how well Amy Murphy’s charge ran on Tuesday. Fourth in a major Ascot handicap before that, he ought to enjoy this test and can go well. Whiskey Sour as had much less experience but the form of his fourth in the Deloitte is now looking much stronger than it initially did and it should be remembered that he won two major handicap at Galway before going back jumping. 141 might underestimate him here if he takes to the tacky surface and he makes the second most appeal out of the Mullins battalion. The third best might be another Mullins charge in the shape of Lagostovegas, whom was a good third to a smart mare in Forge Meadow on her first race after a break in February. Before that she had finished second in a Listed contest on the flat and then before that she had been third in a Cesarewitch – form which is tacking up nicely.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Bleu Et Rouge (10/1 general), 1 pt each/way Lagostovegas (20/1 general)
2.50 – (New) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (Class 1):
Favourites don’t have the best record in this but the way Santini managed to find overdrive to deny Black Op was extremely impressive in a Grade 2 on trials day and before that he’s proven too good for Chef Des Obeaux who has franked that form by winning a Hayydock Grade and done so in fine fashion. This ground isn’t a problem for him and he gives all the appearance of being a horse who really ought to thrive the further he goes. Chris’s Dream was deeply impressive when taking the Surehaul novice hurdle and needs serious respect and the same to go to Enniscoffey Oscar who just got up in the River Don.
Dortmund Park was a disappointment in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle when Tower Bridge won but he shaped as if something was amiss the and it’s no surprise to hear that he’s had a wind operation soon afterwards. If he is back to the form that he showed when he put a decent field to the sword at Thurles, then he could be a major player here and that potential gives him the second vote ahead of Calett Mad and Ballyward.
The biggest threat is Poetic Rhythm, who took a slog of a Challow Hurdle at Newbury from Mulachy’s Hill when he did well to reel in Warren Geartrex’s charge after he got first run. His pedigree gives plenty of encouragement for staying three miles, and the visual evidence suggests that even more.
Advice: 2 pts win Santini (4/1 general), 1 pt each/way Dortmund Park (16/1 general)
3.30 – Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+): Might Bite is one of two ante post charges and extremely talented, but this new trip on testing ground is much more of a worry than any other factor in the race and he doesn’t make appeal on the day with that in mind. It’s great news for Our Duke, our other ante-post selection, and the form of his Red Mills win has been boosted out of the park by Presenting Percy in the RSA, but Jessica Harrington’s chaser has yet to put in one round of jumping that would be sufficient to win a Gold Cup and he has to be avoided. Native River, an impressive winner of the Denman Chase and this last year, has obviously claims along with Killtuagh Vic (if he stays upright), but the cards have fallen right for Definitely Red. A deeply impressive winner of the Many Clouds Chase, he made Americain look second rate in the Cotswold Chase on trials day and has been excelling himself on soft and heavy ground for a long time before this season. Rated 167, he must be bang there if repeating that run and the surface and likely strong pace will be music to the ears of Danny Cook and Brian Ellison. Total Recall is respected although he must improve whilst Edwulf’s amazing win in the Irish Gold Cup gives him solid form claims.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Definitely Red (12/1 general)
Already Advised for Members on 27 October: 1 pt each/way Our Duke (10/1 general), 1 pt each/way Might Bite (8/1 general)
4.10 – St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase:
Burning Ambition is skinny in such a huge field bit his form, including a good second to Gilgamboa, is first class and he will take the beating with a clear round of jumping. Pacha Du Polder was a disappointment upon his return but he won this race last year with a fine ride from Bryony Frost and along with Wonderful Charm, should go very well in a bid to give Paul Nicholls another winner. Wonderful Charm might have won last year had he gotten going even a stride earlier
Foxrock’s form is first class but his travel issues are very off-putting and that leads one to think differently in terms of an each/way benefit. On The Fringe’s form figures in this contest read 43114 but he’s now 13 and vulnerable to younger legs here – Caid Du Berlais has impressed for Rose Loxton since moving from Paul Nicholls and deserves a lot of respect.
Advice: 1 pt win Burning Ambition (7/2 general), 1 pt each/way Wonderful Charm (7/1 general)
4.50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145):
Willie Mullins has a fine record in this and Deal D’Estruval would have been a contender in any of the handicaps this week following his second in the Coral Hurdle. He bumped into an even more well handicapped horse in the shape of Off You Go there but the form has been boosted by the third Grand Partner winning off 130 in a useful handicap hurdle afterwards. The form of Diese Des Bieffes’s fifth in the Lanzarote has been sensationally franked since and on that basis he is impossible to leave out of the portfolio. From that race, winner William Henry was a fine fourth in the Coral Cup, Spiritofthegames was third in the Betfair Hurdle behind Sky Bet Supreme runner-up Kalashnikov, third Red Indian was runner up at Towcester and then sixth in the Coral Cup, fourth Topofthegame won a Grade 3 handicap at Sandown and was third in the Coral Cup, the seventh Le Patriote won at Ascot and the eighth Dentley de Mee was second in the EBF Final at Sandown on Saturday.
Flawless Escape ran into the handicap snip Total Recall over hurdles in the William Fry handicap hurdle at Leopardstown and is another who must go close although Carter McKay’s third in the Moscow Flyer and the staying novices’ hurdle at Leopardstown makes him look extremely well treated off 138 and this trip and ground ought to really suit.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Deal D’Estruval (8/1 general), 1 pt each/way Diese Des Bieffes (8/1 general)
5.30 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5YO plus):
Take a flyer on the veteran Dresden, who has won impressively on soft/heavy the last twice at Catterick and Wetherby. A staying on sixth last year, he is 3lbs lower now despite being in better form and he’s 2/1 over 2 miles this season. He might not be as much of a plot job as many others in this race but this big field and strong pace will really suit him and he can outrun his price. Doitforthevillage has had two good runs over hurdles as a prep for this and he’s only 4lbs higher than his last chase start – a very taking win here in November. The form of that hasn’t worked out so well but he displayed all the attributes he’ll need here and appeals as being too big in a minefield.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Dresden (33/1 general), 1 pt each/way Doitforthevillage (40/1 general)
Good luck today and for individual Gold Cup Day race previews and tips please check out our Cheltenham Festival 2018 Race Previews and Tips.