Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s Grand Annual antepost best bets

Ruby and Frank are in agreement over the Grand Annual.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have done their best to pick a winner in the Grand Annual ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power are offering non-runner money back on every single race.

Surprisingly, our dynamic duo have both tipped up the same selection in the Grade 3 steeplechase, which will take place on the Old Course on Wednesday as the festival schedule is shuffled.

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The introduction of the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase on Gold Cup Day has seen the Grand Annual move to Ladies’ Day, slightly changing the characteristics of the historic handicap.

Speaking on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast, Ruby and Frank talked through their tips.

Listen to the full show BELOW.

Ruby Walsh

They certainly go a good gallop in the Grand Annual. I won on St Pirran many moons ago, back in 2004, but they go on the Old Course now – not the new course any longer. I think that will have an effect on the race, as it will be harder for horses to come from the very back of the field as has been the case in the past. It will suit those who are able to travel towards the front end, as it is harder to make up ground.

I like TAMAROC DU MATHAN, if he was to turn up here. He was second to Shishkin in a novice chase and beat GA Law last week in Kempton over 2.5m. He jumped and travelled really well, and he has a rating of 150 so he could be an interesting one.

Even more interesting though is THE SHUNTER. We saw him winning the Morebattle the other day, and he ran really well at the Dublin Racing Festival in the race that A Wave Of The Sea won and Entoucas came fourth in. The Shunter actually raced too keenly then, but he probably would have the pace to hold a nice position. He’s 135 over fences and 134 over hurdles on his Irish mark, and is 140 in the UK. He could be the interesting one.

The Shunter Robbie Power Cheltenham November 15, 2020



Frank Hickey

ENTOUCAS has been the one punters have been latching on to since the market has gone up, and you can see why. He is useful over hurdles and has been running well behind nice horses all season – second to Unexcepted at Tipperary, second to Black Bow at Navan, second to Sizing Pottsie in a decent handicap at Fairyhouse. He was fourth behind Daly Tiger and fourth behind A Wave Of The Sea in good handicaps as well, and a mark of 143 is probably fair. He’s only seven and JP McManus has a great record in the race. He has been aimed at peaking for Cheltenham and you can see a seasonal best happening in this race.

SKY PIRATE blew his mark when winning at Warwick and his current mark of 152 leaves him vulnerable to something unexposed. The race will be run to suit and I can still see him running well but I think something will be too well handicapped for him.

Sky Pirate Warwick

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EMBITTERED is only seven and another that looks to have been laid out for this. He was third in the County Hurdle last season off 146 and is back here off the same mark. He has shown fair form in his chase starts this year, finishing second to Easywork on chase debut and then running in Graded chases since. He has a big chance.

But if THE SHUNTER runs in the Grand Annual, he will win the £100,000 bonus for connections after winning the Morebattle Hurdle at the weekend. He likes to be ridden promptly over fences, although he had to do things a bit differently in the Morebattle. He’s enjoyed massive progression since joining Emmett Mullins in June; he won the Greatwood off 128 and the Morebattle off 135, while he hammered Enjoy D’allen over fences at Punchestown over 2m5f in September and Enjoy D’Allen is now rated 137.

His saddle slipped when third at the Dublin Racing Festival over 2m over fences off 132 when Entoucas was fourth and Mitchouka was fifth, and if that hadn’t happened he probably would have won. He will have to run off 140 here, but this is the least competitive of the handicaps. There aren’t that many horses that are really interesting.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Grand Annual bet summary – Wednesday, March 17

Ruby Walsh – The Shunter

Frank Hickey – The Shunter


March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 16.50 – Champion Bumper latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips


13:20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f

13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 80y

14.30 – Coral Cup (Grade 3) 2m 5f

15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y

15.40 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y

16.15 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 62y

16.50 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m 87y

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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