Friday at Cheltenham is Gold Cup day, the showpiece of the meeting and it is a huge betting day. Here are my thoughts for this year’s main contests.
The day always starts with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30, this is biggest race of the year for 4-year-olds and this year we certainly have some classy individuals. Paul Nicholls’s Solo is the current favourite and after this French import had won at Auteuil he came out at Kempton in February and thrashed an excellent field coming home by 13 lengths. If he can see daylight at the second last I cannot see him being caught. Nicholls also has Sir Psycho and he is another who has won his last two comfortably and he may join Solo in the frame. Allmankind trained by Dan Skelton is unbeaten after three starts and is another who can be there at the finish after the form he has shown. The best of the Irish challengers could be Willie Mullins’s Burning Victory who won over obstacles at Fairyhouse, prior to that she had good flat form in France.
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At 2.10 we have the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle and Willie Mullins has a very strong hand here. One of his best runners could be Ciel de Neige who was only beaten a head at Newbury in February and he had several opponents he meets today behind him. I expect him to confirm those placings but he was beaten by another Mullins mare, Buildmeupbuttercup previously who could take this. I will mention Dan Skelton whose horses have won three out of the last five runnings of the County Hurdle, he has Mohaayed here, the winner in 2018, and he may well take a place.
At 2.50 is the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, the ‘Potato Race’. Phillip Hobbs’s Thyme Hill is favourite here after three victories this season but I wonder if he will be able to deal with a big field such as he will face here. I like the look of Colin Tizzard’s Harry Senior who won a 15 runner race on heavy going at Chepstow, he then came here to Cheltenham and won in January he has been kept back since with this race in mind.
So at 3.30 we come to the highlight of the whole meeting the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase. Al Boum Photo is back to defend the crown he won last year, he has been lightly raced and has had only one run winning a small race at Tramore. Nicky Henderson’s Santini has won both his outings this year, latterly here at Cheltenham in January when he beat Bristol De Mai. Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work has been winning in Ireland but has yet to cross the Irish Sea. Paul Nicholls has the King George winner in the lineup, Clan Des Obeaux. He won easily that day and Lostintranslation was pulled up in the race but I’m not sure Prestbury Park suits Clan Des Obeaux , he was only fifth last year beaten 11 lengths,so I pass him over. I look to another Mullins horse who fell at the first here last year, Kemboy, who after that setback went to Aintree and won the Bowl. He then went to Punchestown and won their Gold Cup so he has beaten all of the above and just needs this contest to have a full house of the top chases.
Friday Lucky 15
2.50 Harry Senior