Who would have thought that we would rely on Sir Cliff Richard‘s 1973 Eurovision Song Contest entry as the headline, but today is the day we forgive the stupid adverts and say ‘thank you’ to Paddy Power for their continuing sponsorship of the three-day Cheltenham meeting, which continues this afternoon. (For the record, in those days of non-political voting and before the current fashion of awarding the UK ‘nil points’, Sir Cliff finished a close third.)
The eponymous race takes place at 2.15, with a field of 17, including last year’s winner (our selection then) Happy Diva.
It’s 5-1 the field this time round, an indication of the openness of the race and we are looking further down the list for our two selections, beginning with Siruh Du Lac, which is available at 10-1.
Trained by Nick Williams when last seen going rump over mammary in the Brown Advisory at the Festival in March, this 7-y-o was still going strongly in the lead before capsizing at the second last, since when it has joined David Pipe. Not having run since means its mark is unchanged, giving it a good pull in the weights with those re-opposing today and with the stable in such good form, we doubt fitness will be a problem.
Our other selection for this race is Spiritofthegames, from the Skelton operation. All this 8-y-o’s best performances have been on this course, including a Listed Chase win and a close 6th of 23 in the race mentioned above. The assessor has given this horse a definite chance and the 16-1 available should be taken.
Coverage starts with the From The Horses’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase at 1.40, with a high class field of six. Fav at 11-8 for this is Fusil Raffles from the Henderson yard, which is unbeaten in two runs over the larger obstacles, including over CD last time out, for which victory it is saddled with a 3lb penalty.
We prefer the chances of the only runner not yet to have jumped a fence in public, namely Quel Destin. QD was the highest rated of these over hurdles and recorded a comfortable win over Eldorado Allen in February.
Paul Nicholls‘s 5-y-o tuned up for today with a smooth win on the level a month ago and is said to have schooled extremely well since. At 4-1 this looks the value bet.
The Paddy Power Games Handicap Hurdle at 2.50 sees Golan Fortune attempt a repeat of last year’s success and we think that may just happen.
Phil Middleton has given this likeable 8-y-o two recent runs in preparation for today and, on just 2lbs higher mark than last year, a decent each way bet is recommended at 5-1.
Another handicap hurdle is next on the card, the Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at 3.25 and in this we have a strong fancy for Whatsupwithyou from Ben Pauling‘s stable.
This 6-y-o looks on a very good mark now handicapping and will have benefited hugely from its comeback effort when staying on takingly over CD 3 weeks ago, under today’s pilot Luca Morgan.
The 13-2 on offer looks generous and should be taken.
The Listed Bumper at 3.55 is also on telly, but we’ve mislaid our crystal ball, so we pass.
ITV are also showing the two ‘Fast Track’ Qualifiers from Leafy and while we can do nothing with the 3.05 and its heavy odds-on favourite, we can recommend a bet in the 3.40.
Here we have a horse and jockey who are both improving at a rate of knots – step forward Good Effort and Ray Dawson. Not a breathtaking price at 2-1, but, frankly, the above combination should be too good for the opposition, so we recommend a win bet.
Now over to Augusta, where dawn is breaking.
Sirah Du Lac 2.15 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 10-1 (6 places Paddy, Coral, Hills)
Spiritofthegames 2.15 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (6 places same 3)
Quel Destin 1.40 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1
Golan Fortune 2.50 Cheltenham 2pts e/w @ 5-1 (4 places Hills, Skybet)
Whatsupwithyou 3.25 Cheltenham 2pts e/w @ 13-2 (4 places Skybet)
Good Effort 3.40 Lingfield 2pts win @ 2-1