Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham Friday is a Yeeehaaa occasion and I’m primed to smash the bookies good and proper.
A classy dozen are set to go to post for the Grade 1 chase run over 3m 2f at 3.30pm.
I will back two horses each-way against the field, namely the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work, and Paul Nicholls’ Clan des Obeaux, who of course did me and this column a great turn in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Delta Work was unlucky when third (Santini second) in last term’s RSA, but has done nothing wrong this season and is a dour stayer. Clan des Obeaux is more like a ballerina, who will be ridden to get the trip.
Both have a great chance.
But so do many others. Defending champion Al Boum Photo could easily do it again for Willie Mullins, and Santini has cheek-pieces to help him. Added to that Presenting Percy has always caught the betting public’s imagination. It’s going to be one hell of a race.
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Day 4 of the Festival begins with the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle over an extended two miles at 1.30pm. I will take on Solo with the Gary Moore-trained GOSHEN, who is on a four-timer and described as a ‘freak’ by his handler.
The 2.10pm is the Randox Health County Hurdle over the same distance as the Triumph. I have a feeling a former winner MOHAAYED will be bang in the mix again for Dan Skelton and I’ll have a few quid each-way. He’s well handicapped and these conditions are ideal for a return to form.
It’s the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over nearly three miles at 2.50pm. The strong stayer here is THYME HILL for the master Philip Hobbs. He was third in the Cheltenham bumper last season and has shown battling qualities and class to land three hurdle events. His trainer thinks he is a Stayers’ Hurdle winner of the future.
I always love to watch the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Hunters’ Chase at 4.10pm over 3m 2f. Last year HAZEL HILL won it well for this column and I see no reason why he won’t go in again. He was just touched off by Minella Rocco at Wetherby last time, but is 4lb better off and jumped right that day. Hazel is better here.
The penultimate race of the Festival is the Grade 3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup at 4.50pm. LISP is my each-way hope for Alan King. He was fifth in the County Hurdle last season and might enjoy the way this race is run.
And finally the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at 5.30pm. I will back COLUMN OF FIRE each-way for Gordon Elliott. He will love a big field to attack late and stays strong. So best of luck as the Festival signs off for another season.
You hear me Paddy? You hear me son?