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Cheltenham Festival Friday Full Preview


There was plenty of excellent action on display at Cheltenham on Thursday and the final day of the festival is now upon us. The forecast calls for heavy rain over night though the sun should be out on the course by the time punters begin showing up. It will be interesting to see whether the ground is still rated as soft once the Gold Cup is set to run.

JCB Triumph Hurdle

There’s a fairly big field going 2m1f in the openerand a number of exciting young contenders line up in this one. Sam Winner grabs the eye and will definitely be in the mix on the run-in. He trades as low as 7/1 while First Fandango is a supremely interesting option at a massive 50/1. He has just switched over to hurdles from a relatively successful flat career. He is undefeated over hurdles and could be set to progress here. I consider him a strong each-way selection and his pace will be a major factor if he’s in the leading group on the way home.

County Hurdle

Alarazi and Dirar are the two leading fancies coming into the second race on the day’s card – both options priced around 6/1. AP saddles Get Me Out Of Here, an out of form gelding from the Jonjo O’Neill yard, but he might be able to coax something out of him here. Blackstairmountain looks progressive and will go off at a tidy price of around 10/1. He made a nice step forward last time and could score against a fairly open field. Cockney Trucker at 33/1 is your each-way option.

Albert Bartlett

We’ve got a group of in-form novices set to go 3m in this challenging Grade 1 hurdle contest and the betting choice appears to be Bobs Worth at 3/1. Nicky Henderson’s six year-old has a pair of scores at Cheltenham this season, one of which was a Grade 2. He looks solid from a ratings perspective and he’s only got a single blemish on his record – a second place finish in his debut race. McCoy saddles Mossley for the Henderson yard and he’s also got a grade 2 Cheltenham victory from the 2010/11 season. His next crack at graded level didn’t go as planned but the going was heavy and he was just didn’t take to it. Look for him at a solid 12/1 and don’t be surprised to see a Henderson 1-2 here.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

There’s already been a lot said about the Gold Cup so we won’t go into tremendous detail on what’s shaping up to be a fascinating race. Expect softer going for the day despite the cards reading “good”. The softer surface plays to Kauto Star’s strengths and it would be really something else if King Kauto came back to score. Imperial is supposedly in good nick but is a bit short at 7/2. Denman has plenty of fans but needs to step it up in a big way. The race probably comes a bit early in the career for Long Run while What A Friend remains an interesting outside option at 33/1. What a story that would be.

Foxhunter’s Chase

This one looks to be all about Baby Run and the talented eleven year-old chaser looks head and shoulders above the field here. His 5/2 may put some off, but he is truly one of the best in the business in this type of race. Oscar Delta is an interesting outsider at a 20/1 price and the big field might open things up for the each-way players.

Martin Pipe

Willy Mullins Sir Des Champs gets plenty of respect in only his second go over obstacles as the punters have him bet down to 9/2, well ahead of the rest of the field. Son of Flicka goes off as a co-top-weight and could certainly be a factor if he can carry 11-12. Qaspal is unraced since almost exactly a year ago and he seems to be getting some favourtism from the betting public at 10/1.

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual

The final race of the festival looks one of the most wide open through the entire four day contest. Tanks For That seems to be taking the most money but his recent record isn’t really anything to write home about. Cadoudalas boasts some solid form and gets Sam Thomas for the trip while offering a 25/1 return. Imsingingtheblues is also a bit out of form but should be able to make an impression here. Look for him around 9/1.