Cheltenham Festival Day 4: Our Duke can Reign on Gold Cup Day7 min read
The Gold Cup is the Blue Riband event of the Cheltenham Festival and 18 go to post for what promises to be a real war of attrition over an extended three-and-a-quarter-miles. I think the ground may have gone against the uneasy favourite Might Bite – – who won a sub-standard King George at Kempton last time despite being carried out to the left at many of his fences by Bristol de Mai.
My two against the field are former Welsh National winner Native River (also 4/1) and Our Duke (3.30) with marginal preference for last year’s Irish Grand National winner. The selection is and bounced back to form when giving weight and a beating to Presenting Percy at Gowran Park over an inadequate two-and-a-half miles last time.
That form was franked in no uncertain terms when Presenting Percy ran away with the RSA Chase on Wednesday and the latter is just to win next year’s Gold Cup.
Our Duke might appreciate better ground and his jumping is a slight cause for concern but, if Robbie Power can get the Jessica Harrington-trained eight-year-old into a nice rhythm, he will be tough to keep out of the frame.
I have long been a fan of the unbeaten hurdler Redicean, but fear the ground has gone against the Alan King-trained juvenile and I have jumped ship at the 11th hour to the Nicky Henderson filly Apple’s Shakira .
The selection – – is unbeaten in her four career starts and sister of Apple’s Jade who fluffed her lines in the Mares’ Hurdle earlier in the week. The filly gets 7lbs from the boys and that might just prove decisive although the concession was not quite enough to get Ms Parfois’ head in front in the NH Chase on the opening day. All three of her wins over timber have been at Cheltenham and she is as tough as old boots.
They look sure to go a good clip in the County Hurdle and Willie Mullins had five at the 48-hour declaration stage including Mari Devie (2.10) who stays further than two miles and ran her best race yet when winning over two-and-a-half miles at Punchestown last month.
The selection is and we are are paying ¼ odds five places, and she can run into a place. Do note riding arrangements, at the time of writing, are up in the air with Ruby Walsh set to miss the rest of the meeting following his fall in the RSA Chase on Wednesday aboard Al Boum Photo.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
The 3m Grade 1 Albert Bartlett will be a real slog for these novice hurdlers and Chris’s Dream (2.50) might lack the class of some of his 19 rivals but he might be best-equipped for a thorough test of stamina. The selection is and he represents another each way selection.
The Foxhunters’ Chase is run over the same C&D as the Gold Cup for amateur riders and the ground may have gone against Wonderful Charm who finished second in the corresponding race 12 months ago behind stablemate Pacha Du Polder.
I think this will go to Ireland and preference for Foxrock (4.10) over Burning Ambition is marginal. The selection has not had his ground in two previous runs at Cheltenham when trained by Ted Walsh but is now in the care of Alan Fleming and he is entitled to come on a bundle for his Thurles reappearance. The selection is who are betting four places and it will be disappointing if he does not trouble the judge.
Burning Ambition is three years younger than the selection and has the beating of Foxrock on a line through Gilgamboa but I feel the older horse might outstay the favourite who has the considerable assistance of Jamie Codd.
Martin Pipe Hurdle
My two against the field in the Martin Pipe are Diese Des Bieffes (4.50) for Nicky Henderson and Early Doors for Joseph O’Brien and preference is for the British challenger who is in another wide-open handicap. The selection ran well in his first handicap start in the Lanzarote at Kempton from a 2lbs lower mark and the excellent conditional James Bowen takes the ride.
Diese Des Bieffes
Grand Annual Handicap Chase
The concluding race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is the 24-runner Grand Annual Handicap Chase and I am keen on the chances of Three Stars (5.30) for Henry De Bromhead. The selection might have gone for home a bit too soon at Leopardstown last time and he must go close despite a 4lbs higher mark. The selection is and I will be disappointed if he does not make the frame with the leading Irish conditional J J Slevin good value for his 3lbs claim.