Final and climactic day of the Cheltenham Festival revolves around the 3.30 race, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup which has a classy field of 12.
Favourite and well-backed is last year’s hero Al Boum Photo, which is as low as 11-4 to repeat what it did a year ago at 12-1. The record of returning winners in this race, however, is none too dusty and there is little value in the price.
Our main fancy for this race is Nicky Henderson‘s runner Santini, which has divided opinion in the run up to this race but has had its handler purring with satisfaction in the run up to today. The defeat of the re-opposing Bristol De Mai on this track at the end of January went a long way to expunge the vision of Santini‘s somewhat laboured seasonal debut win and it should be remembered that this 8-y-o beat Delta Work in the RSA at last season’s Festival.
At 6-1 we must recommend an each way bet.
Two others catch our collective eye and are also worth an each way punt, namely Clan Des Obeaux (15-2) and Presenting Percy (14-1), the latter being very much the ‘under the radar’ horse.
The JCB Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 starts the day’s action with Goshen installed as 9-4 favourite after three facile victories. However, talented though this horse undoubtedly is, the last thing you want round Chelters is a horse that persistently jumps to the right and we much prefer the chances of the second in – Solo.
Unusually for a hurdler, this horse is still ‘avec noisettes’, but if it doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t bother us and Paul Nicholls‘ charge couldn’t have made a more impressive debut for the yard in destroying his field in a Grade 2 at Kempton three weeks ago. That was the same race taken by the trainer’s Zarkandar before that horse’s ‘Triumph’ (sorry) in this afternoon’s contest, so we suggest a win bet at 4-1 on history repeating itself.
The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle at 2.10 is, as usual, a complete nightmare with a field of 26 tearing around 2 miles of Prestbury Park, but, if we must, we suggest modest each way investments on Ciel De Niege at 9-2 and Stolen Silver at 12-1.
Next, at 2.50 comes the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, which, based on past events this week, will take some getting and our two against the field in this are Monkfish at 5-1 and the rejuvenated grey thing, Ramses De Teillee at 14-1.
Unlike many in this field, these two are just about guaranteed to stay every yard of the 3 miles and should, at least, give us a run.
The St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase at 4.10 rounds off the televised coverage and this race sees the re-appearance of last year’s 1-2, Hazel Hill and Shantou Flyer.
In these races, the jockey is as important as the horse, which is why we suggest bets onBillaway (PW Mullins) and Staker Wallace (JJ Codd).
Both young ‘up and comers’ (that’s the horses, not the jockeys), they can be backed at 4-1 and 6-1 respectively and should be.
Can’t end without mentioning the coronavirus.
Santini 3.30 Cheltenham 2pts e/w @ 6-1 (5 places SkyBet)
Clan Des Obeux 3.30 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 15-2 (5 places SkyBet)
Presenting Percy 3.30 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (5 places SkyBet)
Solo 1.30 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1
Ciel De Neige 2.10 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2 (6 places)
Stolen Silver 2.10 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (6 places)
Monkfish 2.50 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1 (4 places)
Ramses De Teillee 2.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (4 places)
Billaway 4.10 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1
Staker Wallace 4.10 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 6-1 (5 places)