Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s Coral Cup antepost best bets

Ruby and Frank have cast their eyes over the Coral Cup

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*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 given their insight into the Coral Cup ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, where Paddy Power are offering non-runner money back on every single race.

Run over 2m5f on the Old Course at Prestbury Park, the Grade 3 handicap is open to horses aged four years or older and will see a huge field tackle 10 flights in a daunting test of speed and stamina.

Cheltenham Festival: Dates, race times and antepost tips from our experts

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

I think you need to be just as well handicapped – if not more so – in the Coral Cup than you need to be in the County Hurdle. If anything, I would say the Coral is an even better race but I had no luck in it! I don’t even remember getting close, let alone winning it. I might never have even been placed in it – shocking record.

They always go very hard, then quick across the middle before steadying up. It’s a race that I never really got a handle on and you need a horse that is going up in trip, not back down. You definitely need speed to hold a position before ultimately staying. It’s one of the most competitive handicaps.

It’s run over the same course as the Ballymore, and they will go faster at the start in the Coral Cup but they will be able to sustain that gallop in the Ballymore while handicappers do have to slow.

Coral Cup Cheltenham March 11, 2020

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BACHASSON only won the Red Mills at Gowran Park last week so I would be surprised if he went to Cheltenham. He’s been chasing all year and has been really paying his way. KOSHARI won a pretty ordinary handicap hurdle at Cork off a mark of 136 and is up to 146 in England. He ran okay at the Dublin Racing Festival but got caught a long way back.

GREAT WHITE SHARK was disappointing on her last start, albeit on heavy ground, but I think the handicapper has a fair hold of her. The ones of Willie Mullins who would be more interesting – were they to run – would be the novice GANAPATHI or even CIEL DE NEIGE if he was to step up in trip.

URADEL ran at the Dublin Racing Festival but was beaten a long way by Drop The Anchor so he would have to improve and is unlikely to get in anyway, so I don’t see one of Willie’s jumping out at me.

The one I would give a chance to at a price is BIRCHDALE. He was eighth in the race last year off 146, and he is down 2lbs to 144. He came in last year off the back of just one run in November, but he’s had a couple of runs this time. He fell in a chase in November at Catterick then went to Newbury where he had a run (he did finish last) then a ‘Jumpers Bumpers’ race at Kempton where he finished third behind Young Lieutenant. He’s had a better prep and is 2lbs lower.

Birchdale-Barry-Geraghty

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Frank Hickey

Dame De Compagnie last year was the first winning favourite since 2003, so it has been a good race for the bookies. The prices of the last 10 winners were 5/1, 28/1, 20/1, 16/1, 12/1, 9/1, 14/1, 33/1, 16/1 (that was Son Of Flicka, who was a massive gamble and might have even been 100/1 in the days beforehand) and 16/1.

Nicky Henderson has won this the last two years and three times in the last seven years. He’s got ALLART who might run here and is pretty lightly raced over hurdles. He was fifth in last years Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and was impressive when making a winning chase debut this season at Ascot at Grade 2 level, beating Fiddlerontheroof.

However, he didn’t jump fluently in the first half of that race and it came back to haunt him when he fell at Haydock in another Grade 2 in January. He has not been seen since but he might run here off a mark of 149 and has the ability to go well. No run since a fall is a negative though.

MONTE CRISTO might be a little bit more solid. This horse was very disappointing on his debut for Henderson at Cheltenham in January 2020 when 10/11. He was well beaten but bolted up in a decent Kempton handicap at Christmas off 133. He got 12lbs for that but has been kept wrapped up since. He is only five and unexposed while drying ground would be a positive so he has a chance.

Monte Cristo Daryl Jacob Newbury February 28, 2020

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GRAND ROI has been well backed. He used to be trained by Nicky Henderson and won three of his four starts for him. He was impressive at Limerick on his second start since switching trainers in a Grade 3 for four-year-olds, and was behind Bachasson last time. You can definitely make a case for him but a mark of 149 is no gimme. I would be surprised if he is hiding 10lbs from the handicapper.

BOTOX HAS for Gary Moore is two from three at Cheltenham and was second to Allmankind on the other start. He won nicely on his reappearance this season when Allmankind was third. He has been below form since – okay in the Gerry Fielden and well beaten on his two starts after – but his mark has fallen from 146 to 142. Gary Moore said recently that this has been a long-term plan and the drying ground is a plus for him.

The other one that is most interesting, and that I am most keen on here, is YOU RAISED ME UP for Martin Brassil. He’s in the County Hurdle as well but I would be really keen if he runs here. He is very unexposed, having just one handicap start when he was an excellent third, one length behind Thosedaysaregone in the Ladbroke Hurdle at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival off 125.

He has only had two starts since, winning a maiden hurdle at Listowel in September over 2m beating the useful Run For Oscar and Belfast Banter. He was then off until middle of February when he won under a penalty over 2m3f where he was weak in the market, suggesting that the run was needed. Brassil is in great form, winning with two of his last four runners, and the drying ground a big positive.

*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

Coral Cup bet summary – Wednesday, March 17

Ruby Walsh – Birchdale (EW)

Frank Hickey – You Raised Me Up

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

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

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY TWO SCHEDULE

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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