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I have watched ZANAHYIR closely since the first day I saw him win at Fairyhouse, he came into the contest having won at Ballinrobe in a five-runner race and he was second favourite to Saint Sam. He beat him easily and had the clock watchers purring about the performance.
Saint Sam finished second in the Fred Winter Novices’ Handicap Hurdle earlier in the week carrying a big weight, so it really does point towards him. The ground is drying though, and that will help Tritonic.
He was second in a handicap on the Flat at Royal Ascot for Alan King in Janurary and he looked really good at Kempton last month when he powered home from the last in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. He is the danger, but it has to be Zanayhir for me.
This is a tough race to call with such a strong field. There are lots of young, unexposed horses in this and with the ground drying, it might take a few of them out of their comfort zone.
I am interested in a couple though. Petit Mouchoir who has mixed it on the big stage and has a good 7lb claimer in Jordan Gainford on board has to have a chance with the ground. YOU RAISED ME UP is by Presenting and his progeny love the drying ground.
He is the selection at an each-way price.
STREETS OF DOYEN has won at the track at an earlier meeting and his Irish trainer John McConnell has a good record when sending horses to Cheltenham. This gelding beat Flooring Porter on nice ground at Gowran Park over this trip and he can hit the frame at worst. Stattler looks a little keen to get this trip having watched him at Leopardstown. Fakiera is interesting as he does stay and will relish this trip with cheekpieces on.
It’s hard to believe AL BOUM PHOTO is going for his third Gold Cup in-a-row. He has gone down a familiar route with one run at Tramore before a Gold Cup tilt and this year’s race should suit him more as Frodon and Native River will set a strong pace up front.
That will make life easier for Al Boum Photo and Champ who ran a hell of a race for his first run of the season at Newbury, but this is a different test. He has to jump as well at pace on this drying ground, but everything about his performances says he will like it.
Last year’s runner-up Santini will also like the drying ground but it may tax his jumping as he can be sloppy at times. However, they’ve put blinkers on him to try help him but Nico de Boinville has chosen to ride Champ this year.
A Plus Tard is another who shouldn’t mind the drying ground and Henry De Bromhead’s stable is flying, Rachael Blackmore has chosen to ride him over Minella Indo.
Frodon was the fairytale result in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and there was no fluke about it. King George winners have come up short in the Gold Cup before though and the worry is he may not have things his own way up front. That is the key to him winning.
Lostintranslation was third in this contest last year but has had some very poor runs this season. He will relish the conditions and could well out-run his odds.
I sided with Al Boum Photo last year and he should win it again.
There are no amateurs riders in this contest where Billaway comes into it in good form. He wasa beaten favourite last year though and Bob And Co has to be on the shortlist after an easy win at Haydock.
Red Indian trained by Kelly Morgan has won a couple of point-to-points, but the drying ground is a worry. Maybe I’m overthinking it and he will handle it fine but last year’s winner IT CAME TO PASS should handle conditions again and is the selection.
Shattered Love must surely have a better chance against ELIMAY this time around compared to Naas when running over an inadequate trip. She should be more suited to this contest and she has won over course and distance in 2018 and that is a big plus.
Colreevy has won her last three starts and has enjoyed jumping fences from what we have seen. She was well beaten in the Mares’ Hurdle last year though so stablemate Elimay gets the nod after some pretty smart runs this term.
She won on yielding ground at Thurles in January, so shouldn’t worry if it dries up too much. My one concern is that she is not a very big mare and these fences will test her jumping, but she’s looked very good at her obstacles so far.
The final race of the four days is usually a tough puzzle to crack and this year is no differnt.
The key usually is to stick to the less ‘unexposed’ runners and FIRE ATTACK fits the bill. He’s been campaigning in Graded races and performed well as was placed behind Thedevilscoachman last time at Punchestown, He can be competitive off a rating of 138 as he has some smart form to his name already.
13:20 Triumph Hurdle – Zanahyir
13:55 County Handicap Hurdle – You Raised Me Up
14:30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Streets of Doyen
15:05 Gold Cup – Al Boum Photo
15:40 Foxhunters Chase – It Came to Pass
16:15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase – Elimay
16:50 Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle – Fire Attack
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