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MOM's racing preview – Cheltenham Festival – Day 4

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    Thursday was a decent day betting wise. We had three each way placers at 9/2, 9/2 and 16/1 as well as three winners at 10/3, 6/1 and 15/8. Today is a big day! First big antepost bet Pic D’Orhy finally has his date with destiny, then the Gold Cup comes and goes for another year, before two handicaps where I genuinely fancy one more than any of the other handicaps this week. Let’s hope we go out on a high!

    1:30 – Triumph Hurdle
    Sir Erec is seen by many as the Irish banker this week after winning the big juvenile race at the Dublin Festival. He entered these ranks in November after showing high class flat form to run Stradivarius close in the Champions Day Long Distance Cup and his reputation has only grown. However, there are three reasons, I have always wanted to take him on. Firstly, he is still a colt! That is a rarity for a NH horse and Cracksman showed last year how that can affect horses before a race as a distraction. Secondly, in both starts over hurdles, they went a very slow gallop and he could use his potent turn of foot developed from his flat days to put the race to bed. Finally, I’m all over PIC D’ORHY (10/1) for Paul Nicholls. This French recruit showed a high level of form in France and was effectively their second best juvenile last season with multiple placed runs in Grade 1s. He has shown loads at home with both Paul Nicholls and assistant trainer Harry Dernham said to be very impressed with what he’s shown. I’m on quite big at 22/1 and 16/1 each way antepost so a placed run wouldn’t be disastrous but I’m very hopeful he can put the favourite under pressure up the hill. Quel Destin has looked solid this season although is rumoured to be working worse than Pic D’orhy at home but has a chance. Adjali never ran his race last time and can go better here. I have him each way at 33/1 from the start of the season for this and would be pleased to see him place.
    1 – Pic D’Orhy 10/1
    2 – Sir Erec 10/11
    3 – Adjali 22/1

    2:10 – County Hurdle
    A typically tough renewal of the County Hurdle now and I’ve played three against the field for an interest – all each way with Skybet paying six places. The first of which, STERNRUBIN (33/1) was third in this three years ago and made a return to hurdling last time a Taunton when finishing a fine second. If building on that, he is a massive price. He was behind Capitaine that day and they take each other on again but the suspicion for Capitaine is that he much prefers right-handed tracks. Whiskey Sour has been fancied for this for a while by many but he’s had enough chances from me to win and enough is enough. He was becoming the proverbial ‘cliff horse’ for myself and the line had to be drawn at some point. A 26 runner Cheltenham handicap over 2m 1f seems the right time. Monsieur Lecoq was second in the Imperial Cup and avoids a penalty for that run so is well-in on the weights. CH’TIBELLO (7/1) gets his final chance rom me down in class. He’s always been a solid each way horse in the higher graded races but ran very well last time and has had a wind op too. He’s been very well backed this week for the race and the 7/1 each way bet has been tentatively taken. The final of my three is the Gordon Elliott trained ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU (11/1) who ran a good race on his handicap debut in a very classy contest. He could build on that here and should go very close and would be the pick of my three.
    1 – Eclair De Beaufeu
    2 – Sternrubin
    3 – Ch’tibello

    2:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
    This race is so often tough for the field and generally takes an experienced battle-hardened type but this year’s renewal is full of classier types and the trends made be flipped. One who is experienced is course and distance winner Dinons who I backed for any race months ago at 16/1. He rarely runs a bad race and will stay the trip as well as any. One I couldn’t have here is the favourite Birchdale who was given a fright against Brewinupastorm last time when that horse fell at the last and this race may come too soon in his career for him. Lisnager Oscar won a Grade 2 last month after beating Dickie Diver who himself runs here with a chance. While Gordon Elliott isn’t confident, his charge COMMANDER OF FLEET (15/2), stayed on very strongly against Rhinestone in a very good race at the Dublin Festival and would’ve learnt a lot from that experience. He has a touch of class too as a £400,000 buy and won a high class Irish bumper last season. He gets the vote from me and is one I am on antepost at 12/1 for any race. Allaho looks like an improver whilst Derrinross has the profile to win a race of this nature.
    1 – Commander Of Fleet 15/2
    2 – Derrinross 12/1
    3 – Dinons 12/1

    3:30 – Cheltenham Gold Cup
    The big one now and it’s a fascinating renewal. The talking horse of the year has been Presenting Percy but I just can’t have him for this. I maintain he won the RSA last season despite his bizarre prep and this season has been even more baffling from trainer Pat Kelly. He’s sidestepped every chasing engagement planned this season with the mantra that ‘only one day in March matters’. However, he’s now in the position that the horse has to take on proven open-age Grade 1 performers with no runs over fences this season. For me, that is bonkers! So despite the horse loving the track and has his ground to suit, I just can’t have him as a Gold Cup winner this season. Defending champion Native River will be doing a rain dance all morning and the softer the conditions underfoot, the more he has a realistic chance of defending his title. He too is a Cheltenham specialist who is brave in a battle up that stiff hill. I have three for this antepost at nice prices which are Bellshill (20/1 each way), Might Bite (13/2 from many months ago) and Thistlecrack (26/1 on the exchange). Might Bite was beaten by the ground when outbattled by Native Rive after a brilliant duel for three miles between the pair whilst Thistlecrack has low mileage for an 11 year old and travelled like the monster he used to be when second in the Gold Cup. The best of the trio is probably Bellshill who will stay this trip and has improved with age. He ran brilliantly in the Irish national off a huge weight and connections are hopeful. Ruby Walsh choses him over Kemboy, Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only so is definitely the pick of the four. In the end, my selection is for rapid improver CLAN DES OBEAUX (5/1) at the prices. This game is all about value and I can’t let the horse go off 5/1 second favourite behind one who hasn’t jumped a fence in a race in over a year. Clan Des Obeaux was impressive in the King George but it was his prep race that swayed me in his camp for this. He travelled well as he often does but showed a change of gear and a change of attitude by galloping all the way to the line. I had previously questioned his temperament when hitting the front but he powered clear at Ascot suggesting his mental growth has come along with his physical improvement.
    1 – Clan Des Obeaux 5/1
    2 – Bellshill 10/1
    3 – Thistlecrack 16/1

    4:10 – Foxhunters Challenge Cup
    This race was a tough watch for me last year when having the 3/1 favourite at massive prices and he turned in on the snaff looking all over the winner. However , he failed to stay and broke my heart. This year, nothing screams out to me. Stand Up And Fight is one I have antepost at 6/1 and he is tipped as the next big thing for this division. Hazel Hill and Rod To Rome have dominated the point to point ranks this season with the latter winning 14 of his last 15 races. This is a far tougher assignment though. Caid Du Berlais and Shantou Flyer were classy in their prime and would surely win this at their best with the latter a close second in the Ultima at this meeting just last year. The nod instead goes to UCELLO CONTI (5/1) who has found his mojo again and has the class to beat these if anywhere near his best. He has stamina in abundance and could jump his rivals into oblivion before even getting to the hill.

    4:50 – Grand Annual
    Last season’s finale comes forward a race here and it’s MAGIC SAINT (NAP at 5/1) all day every day for me here. I’ve had quite a big bet here so have had a small saver on the other unexposed runner in Not Another Muddle. The latter is clearly progressive and would be my pick for this if not for the entry of Magic Saint. My selection looked very good last time when winning easily and has top class form in France. He finished ahead of Klassical Dream who on Tuesday won a Grade 1. The vibes from connections of Magic Saint are that he’s a Grade 1 horse running in a handicap and I think he absolutely trounces them here before moving on to bigger and better things. The ground has come perfectly for him and he’s an improving five year old. There’s no reason that he won’t win this.
    1 – Magic Saint 5/1
    2 – Not Another Muddle 13/2
    3 – Bun Doran 12/1

    5:30 – Martin Pipe Hurdle
    The final race of Cheltenham 2019 is one for the Conditional jockeys and another of my bigger bets this week. Early Doors has been well backed to defy top weight after a break and was second in a Grade 1 last time behind Apple’s Jade. Connections of Pym would’ve had loftier hopes for him at the start of the season but he’s been somewhat disappointing but gets in here off 11st 3lb which is generous. The selection is my 6/1 antepost bet DALLAS DES PICTONS (7/2) who seeks his hat-trick and is improving all the time. The yard know how to prime one for this race and he is a certain stayer which can’t be said for all of them. He will gallop all the way to the line and it’ll take something impressive to deny Donagh Meyler another win in this race and to end this meeting on a high for punters up and down the land to end the greatest week in the horse racing calendar.
    1 – Dallas Des Pictons 7/2
    2 – Early Doors 9/2
    3 – Pym 16/1

    Day 4 bets:
    1:30 – Pic D’Orhy 22/1 E/W & 16/1 E/W (both antepost)
    2:10 – Sternrubin 33/1 E/W, Ch’tibello 7/1 E/W & Éclair De Beaufeu 11/1 E/W
    2:50 – Commander Of Fleet 12/1 E/W (antepost)
    3:30 – Bellshill 20/1 E/W Thistlecrack 26/1, Might Bite 13/2 (all antepost) & Clan Des Obeux 5/1
    4:10 – Stand Up And Fight 6/1 (antepost) & Ucello Conti 5/1
    4:50 – Magic Saint 5/1 NAP & saver bet on Not Another Muddle 6/1
    5:30 – Dallas Des Pictons 6/1 (antepost)

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