Call it luck or call it judgement (perhaps a little of both), but we have now tipped the winner of all three Championship races at this week’s Cheltenham Festival – with Thursday’s World Hurdle winner, Cole Harden, recommended at odds of 20/1.
So, we are aiming for a clean sweep in the biggest race of all on Friday and you can find our Cheltenham Gold Cup tips below, along with those for all the other races.
The rain has finally arrived at Prestbury Park and there is a very real possibility that the ground could turn soft before racing starts at 1.30pm.
The slight uncertainty over conditions isn’t helpful to punters, but assuming the Triumph does go off on that ground it will surely weaken the chances of the likes of Hargam, Beltor (as he has his stamina to prove) and Stars Over The Sea.
By contrast, it will significantly enhance the prospects of most of the Irish raiders and of the apparent Nicky Henderson second string, TOP NOTCH. This horse doesn’t have quite the same hype surrounding him as does his connections’ other contender, Peace And Co, but he looks a very professional type, which is a big plus for a race that is a real test of a young horse. He stays and jumps well, and should definitely be in the mix at the death.
Had the rain stayed away, we would have strongly fancied Hargam, but stamina could be key this afternoon and of more interest now are the Alan King trained pair of KAREZAK and PAIN AU CHOCOLAT.
The former has been running with great credit against the best juveniles all season, but has been struggling to get his head in front and may be a bit quirky. His experience will be a big plus.
Pain Au Chocolat is less exposed and so slightly preferred. He impressed at Sandown last time out and easily accounted for Devilment prior to that. He looks the best of those at bigger prices.
|Top Notch (ew)||1.30 Cheltenham||15/2||Bet365|
|Karezak (ew)||1.30 Cheltenham||20/1||Paddy Power|
|Pain Au Chocolat (ew)||1.30 Cheltenham||18/1||Paddy Power|
(Paddy Power will refund losing bet up to £50, if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd)
The County Hurdle is always a near impossible race for punters to solve, but we like the chances of two towards the bottom of the weights – FORCED FAMILY FUN and WAXIES DARGLE.
The former was one of many of these who ran in the Betfair at Newbury recently. He was beaten 15 lengths that day, but it was an odd race in that few horses were able to get into the contest from off the pace and he didn’t help his chances with a bad blunder at a crucial stage. He acts on soft ground and his trainer has a fine record in this sort of race.
We really fancied Waxies Dargle for the Ladbroke at Leopardstown recently, but he crashed out four out. He stays well so the rain has come in time for him and a trademark Paul Carberry ride could see him creep into the race in the closing stages.
Other Irish raiders PRINCELY CONN, Sort It Out and Max Dynamite are all feared, and preference is for the first named, who is the choice of Tony McCoy. He has always been highly regarded by connections and if he copes with the softening ground he can continue on his upward curve.
|Forced Family Fun (ew)||2.05 Cheltenham||50/1||Bet365|
|Waxies Dargle (ew)||2.05 Cheltenham||16/1||Bet365|
|Princely Conn (ew)||2.05 Cheltenham||10/1||Bet365|
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
The Albert Bartlett looks one of the novices’ contests of the week and is certain to throw up plenty of future winners, particularly over fences.
Black Hercules looks the one to beat for the all-conquering Mullins yard, but he hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck in previous renewals of the race and NO MORE HEROES could prove the pick of the Irish, particularly now the rain has come.
We also like two home trained contenders, THOMAS BROWN and Value At Risk. Both should be suited by the step up in distance, but preference is for the former who may be more ready for this type of challenge at this stage of his career. The latter is undoubtedly a horse to follow, but may be at his best over larger obstacles next season.
An outsider or two is sure to be in the mix in such a competitive heat and Native River might have been the selection had his yard been in better form. Instead, we are going to take a chance on SHANTOU BOB for a yard that did us a massive favour with Cold Harden yesterday. The ground has come in his favour and all he does is stay. You can forget his last run as his stable was out of form.
|No More Heroes (win)||2.40 Cheltenham||11/2||Bet365 & Coral|
|Thomas Brown (ew)||2.40 Cheltenham||16/1||Bet365 & Paddy Power|
|Shantou Bob (ew)||2.40 Cheltenham||40/1||Bet365 & Coral|
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Holywell has been our idea of the Gold Cup winner all week, but each drop of rain will reduce his chances and with conditions turning in his favour we cannot ignore the claims of our old favourite – CONEYGREE. He has been doing us massive favours all season and hopefully has one more big run in him today.
He has to buck the trend of novices struggling in chasing blue riband event, but this doesn’t look the highest class renewal of the great race and Coneygree is very tough and, touch wood, jumps like a seasoned pro. The additional quarter of a mile here will suit him too.
Provided the rain doesn’t get too bad, we will stick with HOLYWELL, who is narrowly preferred to mud lover Many Clouds.
This is his time of year and he loves Cheltenham having run consistently well at the Festival over the past couple of seasons.
Outsiders The Giant Bolster and HOUBLON DES OBEAUX and both massively overpriced with BetVictor (at 50/1 and 66/1 respectively) and one, other or both should be backed to cause a shock.
|Coneygree (ew)||3.20 Cheltenham||9/1||Bet365 & Coral|
|Holywell (ew)||3.20 Cheltenham||14/1||Bet365 & Paddy Power|
|Houblon Des Obeaux (ew)||3.20 Cheltenham||66/1||BetVictor|
New Coral customers can get treble odds on the Gold Cup here
Our tips in the later races are:
St Jamess Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
|Paint The Clouds (win)||4.00 Cheltenham||9/2||Bet365 & Paddy Power|
|Chosen Milan (ew)||4.00 Cheltenham||40/1||Bet365|
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
|Roi Des Francs (win)||4.40 Cheltenham||9/2||Coral|
|On Tour (ew)||4.40 Cheltenham||20/1||BetVictor|
|Jolly’s Cracked It (ew)||4.40 Cheltenham||20/1||Bet365|
A P McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase
|Blood Cotil (ew)||5.15 Cheltenham||8/1||Bet365 & William Hill|
|Croco Bay (ew)||5.15 Cheltenham||20/1||Paddy Power & William Hill|
|Chris Pea Green (ew)||5.15 Cheltenham||25/1||Ladbrokes & William Hill|
|Festive Affair (ew)||5.15 Cheltenham||33/1||SkyBet|