Cheltenham Day 4 tips: Frank Hickey’s best bets for the 2021 Festival

Frank has named his Friday fancies

Frank Hickey

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13.20 Triumph Hurdle – Tritonic

Zanahiyr sets a high standard a deserves to be a short-price favourite and his form looks stronger now with Saint Sam running so well in the Boodles on Tuesday, but I just think TRITONIC is going to relish the test that the new track at Cheltenham presents. Tritonic was among the best of these on the flat, finishing second in a Royal Ascot handicap off a mark of 95 and finishing second to subsequent Group 1 winner Subjectivist at Hamilton.

He made his hurdles debut at Ascot in January and I was really taken with his attitude, running down the front-running Casa Loupi despite not being fully wound up. He showed there that he has an aptitude for hurdling. Tritonic then went to Kempton for the Grade 2 Adonis and was extremely impressive in beating Casa Loupi by 10 lengths, really quickening after the last hurdle. The fact that there are only two hurdles in the last seven furlongs is no negative and I think the stiff finish will suit. It promises to be an intriguing race.

13.55 County Hurdle – You Raised Me Up and Ciel De Neige EW (7 places)

The first one I like is YOU RAISED ME UP for Martin Brassil. It is only two years ago that Brassil won the Ballymore with City Island, so he knows what it takes to train a festival winner. You Raised Me Up won a bumper at Galway and while he took a while to break his maiden over hurdles, he did finish a close third in the ultra-competitive Ladbrokes hurdle off a mark of 125 at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival but missed last year’s festival. He got off the mark at Listowel in September, beating the very useful Run For Mary and Belfast Banter and wasn’t seen again until February where he defied a penalty when beating Petibonome. The drying ground is a big positive for him and he looks sure to go well.

The other I like is CIEL DE NEIGE for last year’s winning connections in Willie Mullins and JP McManus. He was only a 6/1 shot for this race last year when disappointing but he had placed in the Boodles the previous year, so the track shouldn’t be an issue. His only previous run on decent ground resulted in a close second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last season off a mark of 135. He is 5lbs higher here than that Newbury run but he has shaped okay in two strong handicaps this season, in between breaking his maiden at Limerick. Cheekpieces go on here and the booking of Jonjo O’ Neill is no negative. He can run much better in this race this time round.

14.30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Fakiera EW (4 places)

I have been really keen on FAKIERA for this race since back in December when he was second in a Grade 2 at Navan. He lacked the tactical pace there but was staying on really strongly at the finish, replicating the sort of run he produced when winning at Grade 3 level on his previous start. Stepped up to 2m6f at the Dublin Racing Festival, he was the only one to make up any ground from the rear of the field, while the first three home had all been ridden prominently. Again, he was staying on really strongly that day, suggesting that stepping up to 3m is going to really suit. This doesn’t look the strongest of renewals of the race and if he can be within six lengths of the lead jumping two out, he will be flying up the hill at the finish.

15.05 Cheltenham Gold Cup – Al Boum Photo

Golden Miller won the Gold Cup five times, while Arkle and Best Mate both won it 3 times and are in the history books and AL BOUM PHOTO can join them if he can get the business done here. He won his first gold cup as a 7-year-old in a strongly run race back in 2019 and last season he proved his versatility when he won the Gold Cup despite the race being run at a slow pace. Champ and A Plus Tard have emerged as the big dangers but I still believe that they will need to improve another 6lbs to beat Al Boum Photo here. In my opinion he is hugely under-rated still but that surely won’t be the case when he wins this third Gold Cup.

15.40 St James Palace Hunters Chase – Staker Wallace EW (4 places)

Came To Pass, Billaway, Shantou Flyer and STAKER WALLACE came home in that order last season but Staker Wallace might be capable of reversing the form. He had been off the track for three years prior to two runs before last year’s Cheltenham festival and shaped really nicely in fourth, just not getting up the hill as well as the winner and second. He has had four runs in total this season, twice in point to points and twice in hunter chases. I thought he shaped really nicely in second behind Billaway at Naas last time and he looks sure to run a big race here.

16.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase- Salsaretta EW

Elimay and Colreevy look difficult to split but I will take a chance on the Willie Mullins third string in SALSARETTA. She was a very useful novice hurdler, beating Felix Desjy at Limerick over this intermediate trip and she ran much better than the distance beaten suggested when seventh in the 2019 running of the Albert Bartlett. She travelled really well that day, powering into the race at the second last hurdle but she failed to get the trip but that was a really strong renewal of the race, with Minella Indo, Allaho and Lisnagar Oscar ahead of her that day.

She won her first four starts over fences, including a defeat of Galvin (who won the National Hunt Chase this week) and a Grade 2 at Limerick last March. She fell when really well backed for a strong Punchestown handicap off a mark of 148 but she tipped up at the first fence. She was vey disappointing at Fairyhouse at the turn of the year and has plenty to prove but a bit of better ground will suit her and she is a big price if coming back to anywhere near her best, particularly as this race appears to lack depth.

16.50 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Eglantine Du Seuil and Frontal Assault EW (5 places)

This looks a wide open handicap and Langer Dan would look a big danger after his facile win in the Imperial Cup last Saturday, though this is a far stronger race with him going up in trip on better ground. I am going to take two against the field, the first of which is EGLANTINE DU SEUIL. She beat Concertista in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle here two years ago on decent ground and was third in two Grade 1s that season at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, again both of which were on decent ground. Last season she was a huge eye-catcher in the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle when fourth beaten just over a length. She disappointed in the Coral Cup but I think the soft ground wasn’t ideal for her. She switched to Paul Nicholls this season and start the season rated 147 and the only day she really caught the eye was when she was second off a mark of 143 behind The White Mouse in a mares handicap hurdle over this course. Again I don’t think the soft ground was ideal and she looks to have been campaigned all season with this race in mind. Nicholls has a really strong record in the race and the ground has come right for her, while her jockey Bryan Carver is one of the better jockeys in the race. She looks overpriced to me.

The other one I would give a chance to is FRONTAL ASSAULT who is owned by Gigginstown and was trained by Gordon Elliott before his suspension and they have a great record in this race. Frontal Assault ran well in bumpers last season, not being beaten far by Ferny Hollow and Energumene but took a while to get his head in front over hurdles, finding 2m too sharp. He just touched off by Jacksons Gold when stepped up to just shy of 3m but that one won a decent Naas handicap recently off a mark of 131. Frontal Assault has won twice since, including in a Grade 3 over 3m, with a poor run in between when he didn’t take to the application of blinkers. He looks well handicapped off 136 and being by Presenting, he is bred to improve for the decent ground here. Jordan Gainford is an excellent young jockey and again he looks a very fair price.

*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

Frank Hickey’s Cheltenham bet summary – Friday, March 19

13.20 Triumph Hurdle – Tritonic
13.55 County Hurdle – You Raised Me Up and Ciel De Niege EW (7 places)
14.30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Fakiera EW (4 places)
15.05 Cheltenham Gold Cup – Al Boum Photo
15.40 St James Palace Hunters Chase – Staker Wallace EW (4 places)
16.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase- Salsaretta EW
16.50 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Eglantine Du Seuil and Frontal Assault EW (5 places)

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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

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

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