David Cormack runs the rule over Day 4
The denouement of the festival is upon us, alas. However one more fantastic day’s racing ahead. Let’s see if we can’t cap off a great week with at least a couple more winners.
Race 1 – Joseph O’Brien dips his first toe into the training big league as he saddles second favourite Ivanovich Gorbatov but I reckon he’ll have it all on to beat Paul Nicholl’s ZUBAYR. Zubayr shaped with enormous promise when winning on his UK debut in the Adonis Hurdle, a race his trainer won with Zarkandar. If this fellow is anywhere near that level he’ll take all the beating and with Nicholls making encouraging noises 6/1 may not look that skinny come 1.40 pm.
Race 2 – I had one lined up in the cross hairs for this race but Desoto County failed to get into the race so I’m left scratching my head a little. At the head of the market you have a couple of horses who are high on potential but light on experience in Superb Story and Great Field. If Superb Story can repeat his running when second to Old Guard he could be absolutely thrown in but Willie Mullins has a superb record in this and the fact he’s pitched GREAT FIELD into this after only one run for the yard is a tip in itself. Montbazon may run well at a price while Paul Nicholls has a good record in this too and his runners are to be given close scrutiny.
Race 3 – This is one where Mullins may not get his own way as I like both BARTERS HILL and Shantou Village. Preference is for Barters Hill on the basis he has done nothing wrong and has shown all the qualities needed for a test like this. Shantou Village’s run against Yanworth was top class form but I feel he is vulnerable to a horse like Barters Hill who won’t knuckle under easily. Open Eagle may outrun his price among the Mullins battalion.
Race 4 – This isn’t as competitive as it was shaping up to be and the absence of Vautour has robbed the race of much of its allure. His absence can be taken as the strongest possible hint that Djakadam’s connections feel they have him dead set for this and I think (very reluctantly) that he’ll stay on a bit too strongly for Don Cossack, who is prone to the odd error and may need to wait until Aintree and Punchestown, where he excelled last spring, to get back on track after his fall at Kempton. Djakadam can make a mistake or two himself and with Cue Card a rejuvenated character he’ll need to avoid errors but he has the right man on board to do just that. Don Poli’s form doesn’t bear close inspection in terms of comparison with the others at the head of the market. My heart says Don Cossack (if you’ve been on our form or TRF facebook page you’ll have seen pics of how well he is looking this week) but my head says that the Mullins team are pretty sure they’ve got the right ammunition loaded in the Gold Cup gun and DJAKADAM can gain compensation for last year’s defeat to Coneygree.
Race 5 – This race will be dominated by media interest in Victoria Pendleton. She is on the best horse but I will be amazed if she can finish in the first four. In fact I’ll be amazed if she gets round. Fair play to her for getting here and she’s clearly learned a lot in a short space of time but pitching up against the likes of Nina Carberry is like me taking on Usain Bolt. And it is Nina who I think will win this on ON THE FRINGE, he won it well last year and can come good again. Paint The Clouds is a real danger under Sam Waley Cohen. I’ve been watching Need To Know on the gallops each morning and he is really the most beautiful animal so I’d love to see him run a race for top amateur Derek O’Connor.
Race 6 – Squouateur has strong claims but at 4/1 or less looks short in what is a competitive field. I’m going to row in with FLYING ANGEL on the basis that he looks to be progressing steadily, has just about the strongest form in the race to date, and is in good hands with Ryan Hatch.
Race 7 – the getting out stakes looks highly tricky. Next Sensation has been strongly supported for a repeat of last year’s success but his form since has been patchy to say the least. Gordon Elliott’s team have been in grand form this week and I am siding with BRIGHT NEW DAWN who has been highly tried but has proven himself not to be too far off the top level. The race is full of dangers so avoid the temptation to go in big on this last race.