Climax of the Cheltenham Festival today is the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase at 3.30 and despite 3 non-runners, a field of 15 are due to go to post. There are a host of Irish trained challengers together with the best of British, headed by Might Bite at 4-1.
With this class of field, official ratings are not paramount, with the main contenders all within a few pounds of each other and ‘taking a view’ is the way to approach it.
Our view is that Might Bite is a class apart and, to back up that view, we recommend a win bet rather than mess about with a wimpy each way, as if we are right it wins and if we are wrong it’ll be tailed off. There you have it – Might Bite to win @ 4-1.
Proceedings get under way at 1.30 with the JCB Triumph Hurdle, a field of 5 Irish and 4 British trained runners. Short priced favourite at 6-4 is the Nicky Henderson trained Apple’s Shakira, unbeaten in three runs over course and distance, but, to our eyes, distinctly unimpressive when last seen making hard work of beating a horse rated 130.
There is no way to compare the juvenile Irish form with that of the Brits, but Redicean appeals as a value each way bet at 7-1. Unbeaten in three, Alan King’s charge has shown the ability to quicken out of soft ground and has improved with every run.
First handicap of the day is at 2.10 with the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle, a simple 24 runner affair, which may well continue to confirm the inequality between the Irish and British handicapping systems.
With a wing and a prayer we’ll go two against the field, both 5 places each way, with Meri Devie at 14-1 and Chesterfield at 18-1.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at 2.50 has Nicky Henderson’s Santini as 3-1 favourite and a worthy one it is, too, so we suggest a win bet at those odds. Additionally we go each way (4 places) on Chris’s Dream at 8-1.
After counting the winnings from Might Bite, invest some of it in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup at 4.10 – Foxrock at 8-1 and Barel Of Laughs at 28-1 are the each way selections (4 places).
Our Irish friends will probably win the 4.50, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, and we hope that Flawless Escape will be the one to bring home the gammon at 7-1 (each way, 5 places). We also can’t possible leave this race without recommending an each way puntet on Tommy Rapper at a big looking 25-1.
And so to the finale, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup at 5.30. Named in honour of NJH’s late father, as last year he has laid out Theinval to try to win it. Nearly did so last year and may do so this – 16-1 is the price, 5 is the number of each way places.
On the same basis, Don’t Touch It at 12-1 is also put forward, in case it jumps the fences instead of trying to take them with it.
That’s it – may fortune be smiling by 5.45.
Might Bite 3.30 Cheltenham win @ 4-1
Redicean 1.30 Cheltenham e/w @ 7-1
Meri Devie 2.10 Cheltenham e/w @ 14-1 (5 places)
Chesterfield 2.10 Cheltenham e/w @ 18-1 (5 places)
Santini 2.50 Cheltenham win @ 3-1
Chris’s Dream 2.50 Cheltenham e/w @ 8-1 (4 places)
Foxrock 4.10 Cheltenham e/w @ 8-1 (4 places)
Barel Of Laughs 4.10 Cheltenham e/w @ 28-1 (4 places)
Flawless Escape 4.50 Cheltenham e/w @ 7-1 (5 places)
Tommy Rapper 4.50 Cheltenham e/w @ 25-1 (5 places)
Theinval 5.30 Cheltenham e/w @ 16-1 (5 places)
Don’t Touch It 5.30 Cheltenham e/w @ 12-1 (5 places)