Cheltenham 2019

Welcome to the Cheltenham 2019 dedicated page!!

On the lead up to the festival it is my aim to complete a full race preview for as many races as possible – all of which will be posted right here! 

In terms of Profit & Loss, I will allocate either 1pt win or 0.5pts each way to each horse selected on this page, however this is only to keep a record for the festival and will be kept completely separate from the normal blog P&L – only horses added to the main selections will be counted for blog P&L purposes. A quick reminder of our results from the 2018 race previews…

Based on a 1pt win or 0.5pt each way for each horse selected from the previews, Cheltenham 2018 gave us:

Winners at 40/1, 25/1, 12/1, 7/1

Placed at 20/1, 16/1, 16/1, 14/1, 12/1, 9/1

32pts staked

70.37pts returned

38.37pts profit

119.9% Return on Investment

Let’s hope 2019 proves to be just as fruitful!!


Tuesday – Supreme Novices Hurdle

  • Willie Mullins won the race in 2015, 2014, 2013 & 2007
  • Ruby Walsh rode the winner in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011 & 2006
  • 10 of the last 13 favourites that started at 2/1 or less lost this race
  • Look for the following:
    • Horses with 3 or more runs over hurdles – the last 10 winners had all had 4+ runs over hurdles
    • Horses that won their final preparation race before Cheltenham (19 of the last 22 winners)
    • Front runners/prominent runners
    • Horses that contested last years’ Champion Bumper
    • Horses that have run within 45 days of the Supreme (18 of last 22 winners)

Angels Breath was pitched straight in to a Grade 2 on first run for Nicky Henderson and didn’t disappoint, quickening away nicely to win by over four lengths. He only had four hurdles to jump that day and didn’t look as fluent as a couple of more experienced rivals, but quickly put the race to bed in the home straight. Next seen in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle at Kempton last month, he could only manage second behind Southfield Stone. A few have come out to say that he has plenty of scope for improvement after just two runs under rules, but for me that also means that he lacks the experience of some of his rivals. The horses he beat at Ascot have done little to frank the form since, and he was beaten fairly last time out by a horse that could only manage third to Elixir Du Nutz earlier in the season.

Al Dancer thrust himself to the head of the early markets for The Supreme following an impressive victory in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in February, taking his hurdles tally to four wins from four. Already proven at Cheltenham, and versatile with regards to conditions having won on ground ranging from soft to good, he travels well, likes to race prominently and stays on strongly so deserves his place at the head of the market. That said, the recent form of the Betfair Hurdle winners in this race hasn’t been the greatest, and the form of his victories hasn’t been franked so I am happy to look elsewhere as I feel his price is a little on the short side considering the above.

It’s hard not to be impressed with what Klassical Dream has achieved since joining Willie Mullins. Unbeaten in two over hurdles, he shrugged off a bunny-hop at the last hurdle on debut to quickly assert himself and beat the likes of Entoucas and Vision D’Honneur in to second and fourth respectively, before following up with an even better performance when again beating the aforementioned rivals and also beating prior Grade 1 winner and stablemate Aramon, getting headed on the run-in before battling back to win by a head. He travelled strongly on both occasions, looked slick over his hurdles and with no issues over engine or stamina looks to be a stayer in the making – strong traits for this race.

Elixir Du Nutz beat two subsequent Grade 2 winners (Grand Sancy and Southfield Stone) when winning the Tolworth in January, making it three wins in a row which includes two victories around Prestbury Park. The Tolworth has been a good indicator for this race, as Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov were 1st and 2nd in the Tolworth before occupying the same positions in this race last season. A no-nonsense horse who has already proved he can handle the famous hill, I cannot rule him out of making the frame at the very least.

A ten-length winner of a Grade 1 race at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, Aramon was then sent off as second favourite in the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle in February and looked to have been given the perfect ride by Paul Townend, sitting patiently in midfield before making up ground to challenge over the final hurdle and getting his head in front with 100 yards to go… only for stablemate Klassical Dream to battle back and win by a head. All career wins to date have come on good ground but he has placed on soft so cannot be ruled out, for all I fear he may fall short today.

Mister Fisher won what looked to be a decent race at Kempton on Boxing Day, staying on well to beat subsequent winners Rouge Vif and Thomas Darby, before following up with a similar victory in a Grade 2 at Haydock in January. He hasn’t been since but likes to race close to the pace before picking off rivals on the run in so should be suited to the way this race tends to be run and is another in with a chance of making the frame.

Conclusion

I have spent a lot of time trying to break down this race so the fact that Klassical Dream has been declared in this race rather than the Ballymore has really thrown a spanner in the works for me. I think he is a classy animal and has leading claims in this race. That said, with all the rain forecast there would have to be a concern over conditions as both career wins have come on good ground, and for that reason I am opting for a horse who has prior course form and has also won on both good and soft ground. With Elixir Du Nutz ruled out I am going to take a chance that Klassical Dream handles the expected softer conditions. He can be backed at 9/2 with a couple of bookies but I am going 4/1 with Skybet who are offering money back if your horse is a loser, so in essence is a risk- free bet.

Elixir Du Nutz 8/1 (PP) – 1pt win NR

Replacement Klassical Dream 4/1 (sky) – 1pt win WON (SP 6/1) +6pts


Tuesday – Arkle Novices Chase

  • Nicky Henderson won the race in 2017, 2013 & 2012
  • Willie Mullins won the race in 2018, 2016 & 2015
  • 9 of the last 15 winners had previously won at Cheltenham
  • 9 of the last 10 Irish winners previously contested the Irish Arkle at Leopardsown (won by Le Richebourg)
  • 16 of the last 17 winners were rated 142+ over hurdles
  • 24 of the last 27 winners have won at an SP of 11/1 or less
  • 6 of the last 7 winners were odds on favourites

Lalor won over course and distance on chase debut, beating subsequent Grade 1 winners Dynamite Dollars and Defi Du Seuil in the process, but was then soundly beaten by Dynamite Dollars when they met again at Sandown in December. His form at Cheltenham means he warrants respect and with the likes of Le Richebourg and Dynamite Dollars unable to compete I can see why he sits towards the top of the market, but even so I think he needs a couple of his rivals to falter if he is to emerge victorious here.

Kalashnikov was a consistent hurdler last season, finishing an agonising second in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at last years’ festival, and made the perfect start to his chase career with an easy victory at Warwick in November before another similarly impressive win at Plumpton the following month. Going off as a short-priced favourite in the Wayward Lad Novices Chase when last seen, he put in a couple of sketchy jumps and looked to be struggling by the time they emerged from the fog. He finished well clear of the remainder of the field by had no answer to Dynamite Dollars and although only just over a length behind the winner he never looked like getting on top. He was last seen finishing a distant second to Glen Forsa at Sandown in February, again putting in a couple of poor jumps, and in truth I fear would need to step up a gear or two if he is to get competitive here.

Glen Forsa is unbeaten in three since going over fences, winning on chase debut over a three-mile trip, before following up over two and a half miles at Kempton on Boxing Day, then putting in his best effort to date when winning a Grade 2 over two miles by almost twenty lengths. He only had two rivals that day (one of them the afore-mentioned Kalashnikov) but in winning he proved he has both the speed and accuracy to be a real contender for the Arkle and with stamina also assured he should be able to cope with the uphill finish and in doing so keep his unbeaten chase record intact.

Hardline is a prior Grade 1 winner who has won three from five over fences and could potentially come in to his own if the ground comes up heavy.

Conclusion

Glen Forsa is a confident selection for me in this race. He has already beaten Kalashnikov and I expect him to confirm that form, while Lalor simply doesn’t do it for me.

Glen Forsa 9/2 (Boylesports) – 1pt win Fell -1pt


Tuesday – Ultima Handicap Chase

  • 15 of the last 19 winners were rated 143 or below, but 4 of the last 5 winners have won off 145, 146, 148 & 155
  • Look out for the following:
    • Novices have a good recent record in the race
    • J O’Neill has had 3 winners in the last 10 years & 3x 2nd placed runners since 2002
    • No winner rated 150+ in over 30 years, until Un Temps Pour Tout won off 155 in 2017
    • P Nicholls has never won this race
    • Favourites don’t have a great record but the winner usually comes from the first four in the betting
    • Last time out winners
    • 6 of the last 7 winners ran in headgear
    • Won or placed at a previous Cheltenham Festival

Give Me A Copper has been tipped by many at the various Cheltenham preview events up and down the country, yet for me he hasn’t done enough to justify being such a short price in the market. I am not saying that he can’t win – he’s won over similar trips and has winning form on both soft and heavy ground – yet when looking at the race stats I see that favourites have a poor record in the race, that Paul Nicholls has never won this race (despite having some heavily-fancied entries) and that last time out winners tend to do well in this race (Give Me A Copper only 4th last time out. Given all of the above, I think there are better options in this race.

The first to take a look at is Coo Star Sivola who returns after winning this race last year, fighting it out with Shantou Flyer to win a thrilling race by just a neck. He hasn’t ran to the same level as yet this season but is only 3lbs higher than last year and has made the frame in all three prior runs at The Festival so it would be no surprise to see him bounce back with a big run.

Trainer S J Smith has had a fantastic 2019 so far and runs Vintage Clouds who was third in this race last season. He is another just 3lbs higher this time around and although unable to land a blow in the Welsh Grand National when last seen, he won well over this trip at Haydock on penultimate run. A winner on soft and soft-to-heavy both in point-to-points and over hurdles, he looks a big price considering his run in this last season and if considering Coo Star Sivola you also have to consider Vintage Clouds… and at the prices I am happy to take a chance on the bigger of the two.

A prior festival winner having won the Close Brothers Handicap Chase last season, Mister Whitaker won’t mind the forecast conditions although does have to prove his stamina over today’s trip, while Beware The Bar finished fourth in this race last season and arrives here in form having won over slightly further here at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day. Both would have to be considered in what looks to be a tough race for punters.

Vintage Clouds 25/1 (WHill – 5 places) – 0.5pts e/w 2nd +2pts


Tuesday – Champion Hurdle

  • Nicky Henderson won the race in 2018, 2017, 2010 & 2009
  • Willie Mullins & Ruby Walsh won the race in 2016, 2015, 2013 & 2011 (all favourites)
  • 0/24 – number of winners that finished outside the top 4 in last year’s running of the Champion Hurdle
  • Only 1 winner from the last 100 5-year-olds to run in this race
  • Look for the following:
    • Runners that contested last years’ Supreme
    • Aged under 10
    • Horses that finished in the first 4 at the previous years’ festival 

It was a bit of a shock when two-time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air was beaten by stablemate Verdana Blue at Kempton on Boxing Day. His only prior loss over jumps came in the 2016 Supreme Novices Hurdle when third behind Altior and Min, but although he made amends with a facile victory at Sandown in February it proved that even the best can have an ‘off’ day. It would be great to see him win a third Champion Hurdle and really cement his place in history, yet I think with Melon potentially re-opposing and both Apples Jade and Laurina also in opposition this looks to be a tougher renewal than last year and he will have to be at his absolute best if he is to retain his crown.

Apples Jade was a disappointing favourite in last season’s Mares Hurdle, only managing to finish third despite going off at odds of ½, yet has been in outstanding form this season, looking better than ever and winning four from four over trips ranging from two to three miles. If arriving in the same form she could blow her rivals away, yet there is no doubt that this will be a tougher assignment and she has had to settle for minor honours in two of the last three seasons at The Festival… I fear she may have to do so again this year.

Laurina has been exceptional since joining Willie Mullins, winning last seasons’ Grade 2 Mares Novice Hurdle by eighteen lengths before finishing the season with a stunning Grade 1 victory at Fairyhouse in April. She began this season as she finished the last, winning two Listed contests in January and February with ease, and although it could be argued she is yet to really take on the best of the best, she has looked so good in each run to date I think she will just keep on improving.

Conclusion

This promises to be the race of the day, with three top-class runners occupying the top three positions in the market – It would be a major shock if the winner didn’t come from one of these three. For me, it is an extremely difficult race to call. Buveur D’Air doesn’t get the credit he deserves, yet only just managed to win what was a poor renewal last year and has not been at his best this season. Apples Jade has been better than ever this season but has failed to deliver at previous festivals…. So this leaves Laurina who can only be described as a tentative selection but has shown so much promise that at the prices I am happy to take a chance that she can improve again and win the big one on the first day of the Festival.

Laurina 4/1 (PP) – 1pt win Lost -1pt


Tuesday – Mares Hurdle

  • Willie Mullins has won this race 9 times from 11 renewals & although didn’t win it in 2017 his two runners finished 2nd & 3rd (Vroum Vroum Mag & Limini)
  • 9 of the 11 winners were rated 150 +

Benie Des Dieux won this race in impressive fashion last season and with both Laurina and Apples Jade confirmed for The Champion Hurdle it would be somewhat of a surprise if she did not go off as a short-priced favourite and follow up with another victory here – adding to Willie Mullins’ domination of this race in the process. She hasn’t been seen since winning The Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown last April but has an excellent record when fresh and has been reported to be in excellent form at home. A short price and an obvious choice, but as far as I can see if she completes then she wins.

Stablemate’s Limini and Stormy Ireland are both prominent in the betting (behind the hot favourite), which would suggest that they are considered the most likely to put up a challenge, but in truth both would have to step forward again.

On ratings alone you would probably say that Cap Soleil has no chance of winning this race. She hasn’t been seen since a solid second behind Laurina at last years’ festival but has five wins and two seconds to her name from seven career runs, is proven on testing ground and has twice won on return from a break. She may not beat the favourite but at the odds would give a better return for a top three finish than backing Benie Des Dieux to win so all things considered looks a decent each way bet to nothing at odds of 40/1.

Cap Soleil 40/1 (Boylesports) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Tuesday – Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase

  • Only 2 of the 14 winners went off at more than 12/1
  • Brian Hughes rode the winner in 2016 & 2018
  • Look for the following:
    • Horses that won on handicap debut
    • Horses that failed to win on either of their first two chase starts
    • won or finished 2nd last time out
    • The top-weight (3 of the last 7 renewals)

Riders Onthe Storm improved on previous chase efforts when winning at Punchestown in February, but both his career wins have come over two miles and both prior efforts over similar trips to today (albeit at Grade 2 and Grade 1 level) have resulted in wide margin defeats so I feel he is too short at the prices and there are better options in this race.

Lough Derg Spirit couldn’t cope with the likes of Glen Forsa, Glen Rocco and Del Oro in a hot handicap chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, finishing fifth but behind four subsequent winners. He made amends with a twelve-length victory over Lillington (who has won since) at Ludlow and I feel could sneak a place if bringing his ‘A’ game today.

A Plus Tard is yet to finish outside the top two since tackling fences, beating the highly regarded Willie Mullins’ runner Duc Des Genievres at Naas on penultimate run and running well when second to Winter Escape in a Grade 3 at Punchestown when last seen. He is partnered again with Rachel Blackmore who has been in the saddle for each of the three chase runs and has had a fantastic season so far. A re-production of their last run would put him right in the mix, for all this will likely be the softest ground he has encountered.

Highway One O One has won twice over two miles but proved he stays this trip with an excellent second to Kildisart over course and distance in January. There have been three runners that have been seen again since, producing two winners and a second, so the form of that race looks to be working out well and with the winner provisionally entered and prominent in the markets for the JLT, I think Highway One O One is slightly over-priced here, especially when considering his record on soft ground, and as a result is the selection.

Highway One O One 14/1 (Laddys – 4 places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Tuesday – National Hunt Challenge Cup

  • 9 of the last 12 winners had previously run at Cheltenham, only 3 of those 9 had won at Cheltenham
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had won over at least 3 miles before this race
  • Jonjo O’Neill has trained 5 of the last 17 winners
  • 5 of the last 8 winners had previously ran in a Grade 1 Novice Chase
  • 4 of the last 8 winners were top-rated
  • Gordon Elliott has won this race three times since 2011

Ok Corral finished second in last seasons’ Albert Bartlett and is unbeaten in two since making the switch to fences, beating subsequent Grade 3 winner Impulsive Star on chase debut before an extremely impressive victory at Warwick in January, with jockey Derek O’Connor making the trip over specifically for that ride, and keeps the partnership intact today. At 153 he is officially the top-rated horse in the race and a big run is expected.

Ballyward comes next in the early markets and built on a promising second on chase debut when beating Chris’s Dream by eleven lengths in soft ground at Naas in January. His trainer Willie Mullins had the winner of this race with Rathvinden last season and also saddled the winner in 2013 so knows what type of horse is needed to win ‘the four miler’ and his runner looks a live danger.

Discorama was responding well for pressure and was almost on terms with Ballyward before falling at the final flight at Naas when last seen. Second in the Martin Pipe last season, he will be hoping to go one better this year but having only won over 18f and 19f you have to take it on trust that he will have the stamina for this race.

A final mention goes to Chef Des Obeaux who got back to winning ways with an easy victory over 26f in a four-runner affair at Chepstow last month. Rated 149, he sits towards the top of the ratings and looks the most likely to pick up the pieces should his stablemate falter.

Ok Corral 3/1 (PP) – 1pt win Lost -1pt

DAY 1: 7pts staked, 10pts returned +3pts profit


Wednesday – Ballymore Novices Hurdle

  • 10 of the last 10 winners have been rated 142 or above
  • 4 of the last 10 winners were the favourite
  • 29 of the last 32 winners came from the first five in the betting
  • 11 winning favourites from the last 28 renewals
  • Willie Mullins & Ruby Walsh won the race in 2016, 2014, 2009 & 2008
  • 33 of the last 34 winners finished in the first two last time out, with 10 of the last 12 winners all winning last time out
  • Look for the following:
    • Started career in an Irish point-to-point
    • First or second in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle

Champ got to within a neck of Vinndication on hurdles debut and hasn’t looked back since, winning four on the bounce including The Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury last time out. Although a few of these races have produced subsequent winners all have been in lower grade contests, with the Challow yet to provide another high-profile winner (Getaway Trump (2nd in the Challow) disappointed at Kelso earlier in the month and Kateson (3rd) finished 7th of 9 in a Grade 2 when last seen). While I cannot knock the fact that he has notched four wins, given the depth of this race and the subsequent results from horses that he has raced against, I could not back him at the current price of around 11/4 or 3/1.

Battleoverdoyen was a winner in point-to-points before moving to Gordon Elliott and has since won three from three, firstly winning a decent bumper before an easy victory at Navan in December, followed up by a Grade 1 victory (beating Sam’s Profile) over 20 furlongs at Naas last time out. Gordon won this race last season with Samcro and I feel Battleoveryoden would have to be considered in with a great chance of giving his trainer another winner this year.

Sams Profile is another who has winning form in point-to-points and was a solid second in a Grade 3 over three miles in heavy ground on penultimate run at Cork in December. He put in an excellent run to finish second to Battleoverdoyen in a Grade 1 at Naas last time out, giving away first run and having to switch after being found short of room coming around the final bend, before staying on strongly to pass two other rivals and get within three-lengths of the winner. I am convinced he would have finished closer with a clear run but I can’t be sure if he would have passed… but nevertheless looks to have a decent each way chance.

City Island is unbeaten in three over hurdles and all three races have produced subsequent winners (Getareason & Dallas Des Pictons to name just two). With the rain forecast this could be the softest ground he has encountered but a good run could see him sneak a place.

Brewin’upastorm was four lengths behind Champ in the Challow and was in the process of running a big race when putting it up to Birchdale last time out, just about getting on terms when falling at the last. As alluded to earlier the rest of that field have disappointed since, however Olly Murphy’s runner looks to have more scope for improvement and if over his final flight spill last time out could make his presence felt.

Conclusion

I am not 100% sure Battleoverdoyen is the finished article yet – he is definitely one to follow for the future – yet I do not think that this is a vintage renewal and he has shown enough for me to think he could win this on the way to bigger things next season.

Battleoverdoyen 10/3 (BV) – 1pt win Lost -1pt


Wednesday – RSA Novices Chase

  • 11 of the last 12 winners had had at least 1 prior run at Cheltenham (8 of the 12 had previously won at Cheltenham)
  • 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 7
  • Look out for the following:
    • Ran 3 or more times over fences
    • Seven-year-olds have a great record in the race
    • Horses that contested last season’s Albert Bartlett
    • Horses that have ran in the same calendar year (11 of the last 12 winners had raced within 39 days)
    • winners of the Kauto Star have a poor record in this race (0 wins from over 20)

Santini finshed third in last seasons’ Albert Bartlett before going on to win the Doom Bar Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree in April. Switching to fences this season, he quickly emerged as a likely favourite for the RSA when winning a Grade 2 on chase debut before a decent third in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day. The concern is that he hasn’t been seen since and was reported to be lame just a couple of weeks ago, before losing a shoe when galloping last week. You would have to assume that Nicky Henderson would only allow him to run if 100% for the race, however it suggests that preparation hasn’t exactly gone to plan and as a result he has been eased in the markets so could prove to be a risky proposition all things considered.

Delta Work won the Pertemps Final at least years’ festival and has since gone on to win three from three over fences, beating three subsequent winners (including Le Richebourg) in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novices Chase at Fairyhouse in December before stepping up to three miles to win another Grade 1 race when last seen. He deserves his place at the head of the market and to me looked a worthy favourite even before the concerns over Santini came to light.

Topofthegame has chased home Defi Du Seuil and La Bague Au Roi since reverting back to fences and will look to capitalise on poor runs from either of the two mentioned above. Others to consider for each way purposes include Mister Malarky who is two from two over similar trips and boast three wins from four over fences, while On The Blind Side got back to winning ways last time out and has prior form at Cheltenham.

Delta Work 2/1 (B365) – 1pt win 3rd -1pt


Wednesday – Coral Cup

  • Only 1 winning favourite since 2000 – 8 winners at 16/1+ & only 4 winners 9/1 or less
  • Look out for the following:
    • Irish trained horses – 9 winners from the last 24 renewals
    • JP McManus runners
    • No more than 3 runs earlier in the season
    • 2nd season hurdlers
    • Only won 1 handicap race

Willie Mullins won this race last season with Bleu Berry and has a number in this race that could be considered if arriving on a good day. Calie Du Mesnil and Killultagh Vic would both have place claims if turning up in top form, while reigning champion Bleu Berry returns to defend his crown but has disappointed in all five runs since last years’ victory and although is proven in testing conditions it would be some feat to win this again given his form since. Another of his runners is Uradel who sits at the head the market, has been mentioned in a positive light at many of the preview evenings and is the choice of Ruby Walsh. He hasn’t won since beating Limini on the flat at Galway last summer but had a hurdles prep race at Leopardstown last month and finished fifth without being given a hard race. A prior winner on yielding and soft ground, he gets in to this race off a nice weight and looks to have a strong chance despite the race stats suggesting the favourite is unlikely to win.

Like Bleu Berry, Farclas posted victory at last seasons’ festival but hasn’t been able to re-produce that form since. Of Gordon Elliott’s runners my preference would be for Diamond Cauchois who was a Grade 2 winner over todays’ trip in soft ground at Navan in February last year. He hasn’t been seen since racing on the flat over an inadequate trip at Punchestown in November but has twice won on return from a break so catching him fresh could be the right time to follow.

Apples Shakira went in to last seasons’ Triumph Hurdle as hot favourite having won four from four, including three at Cheltenham, but could only manage fourth and was then beaten at Aintree. She was pulled up on only outing so far this season and therefore arrives with a point to prove, yet considering her course record and her owners record in the race she still deserves a mention.

Erick Le Rouge is unbeaten in four this season but all four wins have come on good ground and his performances in softer ground last season would be cause for concern. If handling the conditions he would have to be considered based on this seasons’ form but I feel it would still be a risk to chance given the forecast.

Conclusion

A fiendishly difficult race to be confident in picking a winner. The favourite Uradel could absolutely hose up and does appear to have been campaigned with a race of this nature in mind, however I am tentatively going to side with Diamond Cauchois who has some solid form from last season (3rd to Presenting Percy in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle & a Grade 2 winner outright next time out) in the hope that he is ready to go on return.

Diamond Cauchois 14/1 (coral – 7 places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Wednesday – Queen Mother Champion Chase

  • Nicky Henderson has won the race 4 times since 2012
  • 4 of the last 6 Tingle Creek winners went on to win the QMCC
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had run in the same calendar year
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had previously won at Cheltenham
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had won at least 1 Grade 1 race before winning this race
  • Look for the following:
    • Previous Arkle Chase winners

Hopefully nice and easy…. Altior to win, Min to follow him home and God’s Own to outrun his odds and sneak third. A race to sit back and hopefully enjoy Altior make it eighteen wins in a row over jumps.

God’s Own 33/1 (sky) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Wednesday – Glenfarclas Chase

  • 11 of the last 12 winners had previously raced over 30 furlongs
  • Look for the following:
    • A top 3 finish over the course before
    • First three in the betting
    • Trained by Enda Bolger or Gordon Elliott

Tiger Roll won this race last season before going on to Grand National success and looking at the markets for both races it would suggest punters believe he can do the same this year. A 25/1 winner over hurdles at Navan last month, he beat a couple of decent rivals with ease so arrives in top form and a bold bid looks assured. That said, Urgent De Gregaine was only two lengths behind when second in this race last season and has finished in the top three in all three prior attempts over course and distance. He has only been seen once since and failed to complete, but his course and distance victory in 2017 and his silver medal effort here last season came on the back of similar breaks so at double figure odds I’d be happy to have an each way play in the hope a return to Cheltenham brings about another big performance.

Enda Bolger knows how to train the winner of this race and sends Auvergnat and Josies Orders. Josies Orders has a fantastic record of three wins & three placed from seven over course and distance but could only manage sixth in this last year, while Auvergnat has now raced over course and distance four times without making the top three… although did finish fourth in this last season. With a clear round of jumping I would expect both to be thereabouts at the finish, although expect both Tiger Roll and our selection Urgent De Gregaine to be the two battle it out for victory.

Urgent De Gregaine 14/1 (BV – 4 places) – 0.5pts e/w 3rd +1.25pts


Wednesday – Fred Winter

  • P Nicholls has won the race 3 times since 2010
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had run within 40 days of the Festival
  • Look for the following:
    • Horses beaten in their first two runs over hurdles
    • French-bred horses
    • Bigger priced options – only 1 winning favourite, 3 x winners at 33/1 & 2 x winners at 40/1 & 25/1

This isn’t a race I would usually get too involved in – a punters graveyard as can be seen by the big priced winners year-in, year-out. That said, I am looking to preview each and every race so here goes….

Dogon is yet to win in four over hurdles but has run well in the three races he completed as a Paul Nicholls runner he is afforded respect. Band Of Outlaws has won his last two and is proven in testing conditions but will find this much tougher, while Cracker Factory has a good strike rate over the trip and has placed here at Cheltenham but has done all his winning on good ground.

A chance is taken on Prabeni who has won his last two, both under todays’ jockey, travelling strongly and showing a good attitude to keep on right to the line on both occasions. He comes with risks attached as will probably encounter softer than ideal conditions, but has shown enough to suggest he can get competitive if handling the ground.

Prabeni 22/1 (sky – 5 places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -2pts


Wednesday – Champion Bumper

  • 23 of the 25 winners won last time out (the last 14 winners all won last time out)
  • Only 1 of the last 12 favourites have won this race – 5 of the last 12 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
  • Willie Mullins has won this race 9 times
  • Look out for the following:
    • If Willie Millins has more than one runner, do not discount the supposed 2nd or 3rd string
    • BHA top rated horse
    • Not run in the same calendar year

A point-to-point winner before joining Gordon Elliott, exciting prospect Envoi Allen has since won three from three in bumpers, beating two subsequent winners in a Listed race at Navan before beating Meticulus in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown last time out. Rated 127, he heads the ratings for todays’ race and looks to have a strong chance of keeping his unbeaten record intact.

Master Debonair has won two from three in bumpers, the latest of which came over course and distance last time out in a race that has produced four subsequent runners. He only had a neck to spare but he had earlier finished second over course and distance, in another race that has produced winners, and has improved for each run to date. With previous experience at Prestbury Park, he looks a lively each way option.

Willie Mullins has won this race an incredible nine times but in stark contrast to last year when he had five runners (finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th) he relies on just Blue Sari this time around, which could prove to be a tip in itself. He has only been seen once, when winning very impressively at Gowran Park in January, and although that race hasn’t produced any further winners he beat the Joseph O’Brien favourite by eleven lengths with the third a further fourteen lengths behind. This is a tough race for a 4-year-old to win and his price isn’t too appealing considering what we have seen so far, yet with his trainers record in the race he would be dangerous to completely dismiss.

A final mention goes to The Glancing Queen who won a Listed contest over course and distance, beating a field that included Mega Yeats and Danse Idol. She couldn’t quite back that up when only third at Ascot last time out but that came over a slightly shorter trip so a return to todays’ trip and the uphill finish could play to her strengths and she looks a bigger price than expected.

Conclusion

A tough race to decipher. I like Envoi Allen and feel he has a great chance, however I think there are a couple in here who could also improve and for that reason I am opting for Master Debonair who travelled strongly and stayed on well over course and distance last time out – a similar run should see a top 4 finish at the very least.

Master Debonair 12/1 (BV – 4places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt 

Day 2: 7pts staked, 2.25pts returned -4.75pts


Thursday – JLT Novices Chase

  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the 8 renewals to date
  • All 8 prior winners had prior Cheltenham experience (4 of the 8 had won at Cheltenham before)
  • 6 of the 8 winners came from the top 2 in the market
  • 7 of the 8 winners had raced within 54 days
  • Look out for the following:
    • Horses that ran well at Cheltenham Festival last season

Vinndication lost his unbeaten record when only third of five in the Scilly Isles at Sandown in February, as was subsequently ruled out of the Festival by trainer Kim Bailey. However, after a reported fantastic couple of days at home, his trainer did an about-turn and confirmed Vinndication will run in this race after all. Despite the fact that he has won numerous times at similar distances as this race, the way he finishes off his races so strongly suggests that he may prefer a sterner test of stamina. That said, the uphill finish could play to his strengths and he is an exciting contender given the trainers decision to run.

Lostintranslation hasn’t run a bad race despite only posting one win from four since tackling fences. The fact that his victory came over course and distance is a distinct positive, further enhanced by the fact that he beat the re-opposing Defi Du Seuil in to second in that race. Defi Du Seuil justified favouritism with victory in the Triumph Hurdle at the 2017 Festival and has started to show he is a capable performer over the larger obstacles too, winning two from four including the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices Chase at Sandown in February (beating the aforementioned Lostintranslation and Vinndication in to second and third respectively). Both look to hold strong chances but with four wins from six at the course and Festival form in the book I am siding with Defi Du Seuil.

Kildisart has posted two wins and a second from his three runs to date over fences, improving for each run. He has won on both soft and good-to-soft ground and also brings Cheltenham form to the table having won here last time out, beating Highway One O One and Spiritofthegames.  

Defi Du Seuil 3/1 (B365) – 1pt win WON +3pts


Thursday – Pertemps Final

  • Only 1 of the last 12 favourites have won this race – 3 of the last 12 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
  • Only 2 winning 5-year-olds in over 40 renewals
  • Jonjo O’Neill has won this race 4 times, one with a 50/1 shot and one with a 25/1 shot
  • Davy Russell has ridden the winner for the last 3 years
  • J P McManus has had 2x 50/1 winners in this race
  • Look out for the following:
    • Last time out winners
    • Top 6 in the weights
    • Horses rated 150+ have struggled in this race
    • Horses that have won one of the qualifiers have struggled in this race

First Assignment began this season with two wins from two here at Cheltenham and was only a couple of lengths behind subsequent Grade 2 winner Shades of Midnight (2nd) and Grade 1 winner Paisley Park (1st) when third at Haydock in November. Another solid performance when third at Warwick last time out, he should be spot on for this race and given his record at the course looks a solid option in what is a very tricky race to find the winner.

Samburu Shujaa has raced in some decent races this season, finishing behind the likes of Birchdale and Geordie B before stepping up to todays’ three-mile trip and winning his last two. Today will need another step forward but Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson teamed up to win this race in 2014 with Fingal Bay so they know what type of horse is required to win this race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big run.

Aaron Lad is another who arrives on the back of two solid victories over similar trips to today. Both these came on good ground, the latest of which came over course and distance, but he won twice in soft ground last season so with conditions to suit and a prior victory at the course he could run in to a place.

Aspen Colorado won his first two this season, both over shorter trips than today, and failed to finish when last seen. It is difficult to be confident in his chances based on form current form  but given the records of both JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill with big-priced winners in this race it seems prudent to give him a mention.

First Assignment 12/1 (sky – 5 places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Thursday – Ryanair Chase

  • 10 of the 12 winners came from the first three in the betting
  • 10 of the 12 winners had won at Cheltenham previously
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had previously won a Grade 1 race
  • Look out for the following:
    • Contested the King George VI Chase (7 of the last 10 winners contested this race)
    • A top 3 finish in last seasons’ Ryanair
    • Prominent racers

Footpad has failed to deliver in two runs this season (fell on seasonal re-appearance and was 2nd to Simply Ned when last seen) but won all five of his races last season, including the Arkle at last seasons’ Festival and the Ryanair at Punchestown in April. He has reportedly been working well at home and would be a danger to all if rediscovering anything close to that form, but even so it would be a brave man who would be overly confident in Willie Mullins’ runner.

As the winner of this race in 2017 and 2nd last season, it would be foolish to dismiss Un De Sceaux despite his age of 11 years. A winner of seven of his last ten over fences, he has only been beaten by Fox Norton, Balko Des Flos and Altior and quite simply does not know how to run a bad race.

Frodon was touted for the Gold Cup following victory over three miles and one furlong here at Cheltenham last time out, but is better known for exploits over similar trips to today and has three wins from five at Prestbury Park so this race seems the logical choice and one that would give him the better chance of winning.

Monalee has had to play bridesmaid for the last two years at the Festival, finishing second to Penhill in the 2017 Albert Bartlett before chasing home Presenting Percy in the RSA last year. An excellent second to Kemboy over three miles at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, he returned to 2m 4f when warming up for todays’ race with a victory in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last month. He looks to have been campaigned specifically for the Festival and although may not be quite as flash or exciting as some horses you will see over the course of the week, he is a tough cookie and will give his all.

Others to mention in what looks to be a tricky renewal include Balko Des Flos  who won this race last season but has failed to reach those heights since, and Road To Respect who won at the Festival in 2017 before a fourth-place finish in last seasons’ Gold Cup. 

Monalee 9/2 (BV) – 1pt win Lost -1pt


Thursday – Stayers Hurdle

  • 5 of the last 12 winners were favourite
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had their last run within 54 days
  • 8 of the last 12 winners won last time out
  • Ruby Walsh has won the race 5 times since 2009 (4 times on Big Bucks)
  • Look out for the following:
    • Ran in the Cleeve Hurdle
    • A five-year old has never won this race – horses aged 10+ also have poor records

Paisley Park could only muster a mid-field finish in the Albert Bartlett last season but has since been partnered with Aiden Coleman and is unbeaten in four this season, winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December before victory over course and distance in the Cleeve Hurdle last time out, looking more and more impressive with each run he has had. A worthy favourite, he has already beaten a number of todays’ rivals and should be capable of making it five in a row for the season.

Faugheen is reported to be in excellent form ahead of this race and proved he can cope with this trip when winning the Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown last season. An absolute beast of a horse, I would love to see him roll back the years and win today… the concern would be, as has been widely reported on the run up to the Festival, is that in the last forty years there has only been one winner aged over nine. 

Black Op chased home Samcro when second in the Ballymore at last seasons’ Festival, before ending his season with a Grade 1 win in the Mersey Novies Hurdle at Aintree in April. He had a go over fences at the beginning of this season but didn’t look happy and reverted back to the smaller obstacles with a decent third behind Paisley Park and West Approach on first attempt over a three-mile trip since his pointing days.

Wholestone had made the frame in every one of his nine prior runs at Cheltenham, twice at the Festival, before a bad mistake two from home put pay to any chances in the Cleeve Hurdle when last seen and as a result arrives here on a bit of a retrieval mission.

Another who has had two placed efforts at prior Festivals is Top Notch. A winner of eight from twelve over fences and two from three over similar trips to today, he was impressive when beating Black Corton over fences last time out and although switching back to the smaller obstacles for todays’ race, a similar run would see him right in the mix here.

One more to mention is Kilbricken Storm who is two from two over course and distance having won the Bristol Novices Hurdles in December 2017 and then returned in March 2018 to win the Albert Bartlett at odds of 33/1. With just two runs over fences this season, the lack of a recent run over hurdles would have to be a concern, yet this does not look the strongest of races and his form at the course would have to give him a chance.

Paisley Park 2/1 (PP) – 1pt win WON +2pts


Thursday – Brown Advisory

  • 20 of the last 24 winners had raced at the festival before
  • 10 of the last 12 winners won at odds of 12/1 or higher – 6 winners from 12 at 25/1+
  • V Williams won 3 of the last 12 renewals and has had a 33/1 place
  • D Pipe has won 3 times since 2010
  • Look out for the following:
    • Carrying less than 11stone (10 of the last 12 winners)
    • French bred horses

Spiritofthegames was an excellent third over course and distance when last seen in January, finishing just two lengths behind Kildisart who is due to contest the JLT earlier in the day. A strong performance there would frank the form and with decent form at the Festival having finished a solid fifth in last seasons’ Randox Health County Hurdle he has to be in with a strong chance here.

Siruh Du Lac is unbeaten in three this season and beat the re-opposing Janika in a Grade 3 over course and distance when last seen. Janika won three races in France before moving to Nicky Henderson and although has finished second on both occasions he has put in two very good runs for the Lambourn trainer. He has looked a potentially high-class individual so shouldn’t be overlooked, but carrying top-weight in this race won’t be easy so I think Siruh Du Lac could just edge their battle again.

David Pipe hasn’t had much luck with his runners in recent weeks but has a good record in this race and runs Eamon An Cnoic who was a decent winner when last seen in February. He has raced twice at the course before and hasn’t been able to get competitive in either race, but is a prior winner over the trip and won’t mind conditions so as such commands respect.

Spiritofthegames 8/1 (B365) – 1pt win 3rd -1pt


Thursday – Mares Novices Hurdle

3 renewals to date, all 3 won by the favourite, all 3 trained by W Mullins

Epatante has won two races since joining Nicky Henderson, both of them in seriously impressive fashion, and has been heavily touted for this race for some time. This is undoubtedly a tougher assignment but she has been so comfortable on both occasions over hurdles and if you include her wins in France she has won on everything from good to heavy ground so for me will take all the beating.

Queenofhearts won a Listed contest at Haydock in heavy ground in December, before confirming the form with Danse Idol when winning a Grade 2 at Sandown in February. Both these victories came over further trips but has won over shorter trips in bumpers. That should hopefully mean she has both the speed to contest this trip and the stamina to get up the hill so I am expecting a big run and a top three finish.

Posh Trish finished third behind Queenofhearts in a bumper at Sandown last March but has been a different proposition this season, winning four from five over hurdles including her last three with the minimum of fuss. A similar run would bring her right in to the frame but I’m not 100% convinced she has what it takes to win and if backing each way would prefer a bigger price.

Epatante 9/4 (coral) – 1pt win Lost -1pt

Queenofhearts 16/1 (B365) – 0.5pts e/w Lost -1pt


Thursday – Kim Muir

  • 1 of the last 12 winners won on their last run before Cheltenham
  • 11 of the last 12 winners last ran within 77 days of the Festival
  • 30 of the last 36 winners were aged 8+, although a 7 year old has now won 3 of the last 6 renewals
  • Jamie Codd has won this race 4 times
  • 2 x 33/1 winners and 2 x 40/1 winners in the last 15 years
  • Look out for the following:
    • Horses ridden by non-claiming amateurs
    • Horses carrying 11stone 4lbs +

At 11stone 5lbs, Measureofmydreams fits one of the positive stats for this race, and is partnered with Jamie Codd who has won this race four times since 2009. His first run in almost two years saw a reasonable third of five at Fairyhouse in February so if he can build on that he could justify favouritism.

Any Second Now hasn’t visited the winners’ enclosure since January 2017 and is yet to win in nine over fences, but has posted four seconds from those nine runs and has had to play bridesmaid to the likes of Monalee, Invitation Only, Footpad and Mortal so all in all his form looks pretty solid. Add to this the fact that he is partnered by Derek O’Connor and I think we have a horse that could put in a big run… maybe even gaining his first victory over fences.

Any Second Now 10/1 (sky) – 0.5pts e/w WON +6.25pts

Day 3: 8pts staked, 14.25pts returned +6.25pts


Friday – Triumph Hurdle

  • 9 of the last 12 winners came from the first 3 in the betting
  • Only 3 of the last 12 favourites have won this race (that said, the favourite has won this race 3 times in the last 4 years)
  • Look out for horses that did well in either the Adonis Hurdle or the Spring Juvenile Hurdle
  • Barry Geraghty has won this race 4 times since 2009
  • Nicky Henderson has won this race six times
  • Five of the last 11 winners were BHA top-rated
  • Look for a horse that has raced within the last 55 days (12 out of 12 winners)
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had won at least once in that season (6 of the last 12 were unbeaten that season coming in to this race)

Quel Destin was second on debut for Paul Nicholls but has since gone on to win five in a row, including a couple of Grade 2’s and a Grade 1, and warmed up for today with a facile victory at Haydock last month. A prior course winner who has won on good, good-to-soft and soft ground, he seems sure to go well and can give the favourite something to think about as they charge up the hill.

Paul Nicholls also runs Pic D’orhy who has a couple of victories to his name in France and was second in a Grade 1 at Auteuil in November. He is yet to be seen on these shores but has been spoken of very highly by his trainer and there is a real sense of intrigue about this one today.

Tiger Tap Tap got to within a neck of Sir Erec on first run for Willie Mullins, putting in a cracking run with the two pulling clear of the remainder. He wasn’t as fluent as his rival over the last hurdle so was heavily supported when they met again in February, going off as second favourite but much closer in the market to Sir Erec than when they first met, yet was ultimately disappointing with Sire Erec making all to win by six lengths without having to be fully extended. He hasn’t had the perfect preparation for this race, suffering a slight stone bruise on the run up to the Festival, but has been given the all clear and on the basis of his recent runs I feel that Sir Erec could be extremely tough to beat here.

Conclusion

I could not put anyone off backing Sir Erec given what he has achieved so far this season, in fact I have backed Joseph O’Brien’s runner and I really hope he can do the business. I think he is a worthy favourite and if arriving here in the same form as his last couple of runs then he could be a wide margin winner. However, for the purposes of the previews considering the prices, I am going for an each way option by way of Pic D’Orhy in the hope that he can confirm the promise shown in France and maybe even take advantage if for whatever reason the favourite falters.

Pic D’Orhy 9/1 (BV) – 0.5pts e/w Lost-1pt


Friday – County Hurdle

  • Willie Mullins has won this race 4 times since 2010
  • Race dominated by 5 & 6-year-olds since the turn of the century, 9 wins from 12 for this age-range since 2007
  • 11 of the last 12 winners were rated in the 130’s
  • Only 3 winners since 1960 carried more than 11stone 2lbs
  • P Nicholls has won this race 4 times
  • 4 winners from the last 10 raced in the Coral Hurdle at Leopardstown earlier in the season
  • Only one winner at less than 10/1 in the last 10 years, 4 winners at 20/1, 1 winner at 25/1 and 1 winner at 50/1

Whiskey Sour was a SimplyHorseTips selection when third in this race last season, and having raced mainly on the flat this season it would suggest that he has been protected for another big run at this years’ Festival. A win and a third over todays’ trip, he races for trainer Willie Mullins who has won the race four times since 2010 so will be hopeful that he can reverse the form with last years’ winner Moaayed.

Another of interest is Crooks Peak who arrives here in excellent form having won his last three races, the latest of which was a decent-looking race at Newbury at the beginning of the month. Aged 6, rated 138 and carrying 10stone 11lbs he fits a few of the main stats for this race and looks a lively contender.

Storm Rising was a course a and distance winner on debut for Dr Newland and followed up with a second victory at Wetherby just 7 days later. He warmed up for this race with a solid run when fourth in the Imperial Cup last weekend. And although may not look the obvious type to immediately reverse the form with the re-opposing Monsieur Lecoq he ran well enough to suggest he can get involved again and at 40/1 I am happy to take a chance.

Monsieur Lecoq raced off 135 when second in the Imperial Cup six days ago and was only beaten a length by Malaya, so would have to be of interest now racing off 132 here today.

Storm Rising 40/1 (Laddys – 6 places) – 0.5pts e/w Lost-1pt


Friday – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

  • 8 of the 12 winners had contested either the Hyde, The Bristol or the Classic Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham
  • 4 of the last 12 winners came from the top 3 in the betting, 3 of which were favourites
  • 8 of the last 12 winners went off at odds of 7/1 or above, with 3x 33/1 winners since 2010
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had their last run within 48 days
  • Look out for the following:
    • Second-season hurdlers
    • Gigginstown runners
    • A horse that has previously contested a race over 3miles or more
    • A horse that has already won a pattern race over hurdles

Lisnagar Oscar finished second to Rockpoint over course and distance in the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle in December, but whereas Rockpoint has failed to follow up on that, Lisnagar Oscar has gone from strength to strength, beating Dickie Diver at Chepstow in January before winning a Grade 2 race over three miles at Haydock last month. A horse very much on the upgrade, with a solid placed effort at the course and with winning form over three miles, he deserves his place towards the head of the market and a similar run to last time out would make him tough to beat here.

The afore-mentioned Dickie Diver was only a head away from victory on hurdles debut and followed up with an impressive win at Chepstow last month. Already a winner over three miles in point-to-points, he should be capable of further improvement now stepped up in trip and rates as an exciting prospect, however perhaps lacks the experience of some of his rivals and also takes a big step up in class so I fear may lose his unbeaten record here.

Birchdale won a Class 4 maiden on debut for Nicky Henderson (a race where 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th have all won since) before winning a Grade 2 at Cheltenham next time out, travelling well and ultimately winning by eighteen lengths. That winning margin doesn’t tell the full story as although he was clear of the remainder of the field he was being challenged by a strong-finishing Brewin’upastorm who looked to be getting on top before falling at the last. He has winning form over three-miles in point-to-points so could benefit from this step up in trip, although would have to improve again if he is to win this.

Commander Of Fleet won a Grade 1 race over 22 furlongs at Leopardstown when last seen, beating the likes of Rhinestone, First Approach and Relegate who all have entries in this race (at the time of writing). He shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the extra couple of furlongs and has winning form on both good and soft ground, so looks one of the more likely types racing for Gigginstown. 

Lisnagar Oscar 13/2 (B365) – 1pt win Lost-1pt


Friday – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

  • 16 of the last 16 winners had previously won a Grade 1
  • 9 of the last 16 winners contested the King George VI Chase earlier in the season
  • 20 of the last 22 were aged seven, eight or nine
  • 14 of the last 15 winners came from the first three in the betting
  • Look out for the following:
    • An official BHA rating of 166+ (13 of the last 15 winners)
    • A horse who has previously won a Grade 1 race (18 of the last 18 winners)
    • Finished in the first 4 last time out
    • The Betfair Chase and the Leopardstown Christmas Chase have also produced multiple winners
    • A horse that hasn’t raced in the same calendar year (9 of the last 14 winners)

Presenting Percy is two from two at The Cheltenham Festival and has been aimed at this race since winning the RSA last year, yet on paper he hasn’t had the best preparation having only been seen once since, racing and winning a Grade 2 race at Gowran Park over hurdles in January. He missed a couple of possible races in February despite connections confirming he is 100% and as such looks a pretty short price considering he hasn’t seen a fence in public in twelve months.

Clan Des Obeaux thrust his name towards the head of the market with an almost breath-taking display in the Denman Chase at Ascot, only beating three rivals but doing so with complete authority to add to his impressive display when winning The King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. A lot has been said about his Cheltenham record (has raced here four times without winning) however he has finished second twice over fences at Prestbury Park and arrives here in the form of his life so it would be foolish to dismiss his chances especially as his trainer knows what it takes to train a Gold Cup winner.  

Native River has gone a little under the radar since winning this race last season, placing second of four in the Betfair Chase before finishing third in the King George. He hasn’t been given too hard a race in either and has obviously been aimed at a follow-up here so it would be no surprise to see him much closer than in his two prior runs this season. He goes on good ground but is probably at his best in softer conditions so with the rain expected to fall between now and the festival it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him put up a fantastic fight up the hill.

Kemboy is a Grade 1 winner who has won his last four and rates as Willie Mullins’ strongest chance in this race, although for me will need to take another step forward if he is to trouble the above-mentioned rivals.

Despite his win in the Cotswold Chase here at Cheltenham in January I am happy to overlook Frodon for this race as he is yet to win at the highest level and that trip seemed to be his absolute limit (he would surely have been beaten if the Cotswold was run over the GC trip).

The horse I am most interested in is Elegant Escape who was third in the RSA last season and is yet to finish outside the top three in eleven races over fences. He won the Welsh Grand National on penultimate run and was absolutely eating up the ground when just failing to catch Frodon in The Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, over a furlong shorter than the Gold Cup trip, eventually losing out by just less than a length. He is an economical jumper and has already proved his stamina and his ability to handle the Prestbury Park hill so at 25/1 with William Hill (ante-post  price) or 20/1 (non-runner money back) with a number of firms, he rates as an excellent each way play in what promises to be a top class renewal of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Elegant Escape 25/1 (WHill) – 0.5pts e/w *price from last week when preview first posted Lost-1pt


Friday – Foxhunters Chase

  • 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 8+
  • P Nicholls has won this race 4 times since 2004
  • Salsify won back-to-back in 2012 & 2013, On The Fringe won back-to-back in 2015 & 2016, Pacha Du Polder won back-to-back in 2017 & 2018
  • Look out for the following:
    • Won last time out
    • Raced in last years’ renewal

Hazel Hill was an extremely impressive winner at Warwick when last seen, jumping superbly and travelling like a dream to win by eleven lengths despite being eased down towards the line. He has won three from three since moving to Phillip Rowley, all three with todays’ jockey Alex Edwards in the saddle, and despite this being a much tougher race a similar run would make him difficult to beat.

Pacha Du Polder has won this race for the last two years and although has only been seen once this season, when finishing fifth of eight at Haydock in February, that was likely to have just been a run-out and could be the perfect preparation for his hat-trick attempt. He is again partnered with Harriet Tucker who managed to guide him to victory with a part-dislocated shoulder last season, and although it may seem a bit of a fairytale to see them win again I think they will give it a good go.

A final mention goes to Shantou Flyer who was well beaten by Hazel Hill at Warwick in January but that was his first run in nine months and has since won two in impressive fashion. Second to Coo Star Sivola in last seasons’ Ultima, and having made the frame in five from seven at Cheltenham, he will likely put up a strong challenge. I’m sticking with Hazel Hill but couldn’t put anyone off having an each way on Shantou Flyer. 

Hazel Hill 6/1 (sky) – 1pt win WON +6pts


Friday – Grand Annual

  • 13 of the last 18 winners carried less than 11st, although the 5 exceptions came in each of the last 5 years
  • Previous winners at Cheltenham tend to do well in this race, also look out for runners who ran in last years’ renewal and novices rated under 140
  • 15 of the last 16 runners were aged 9 or under, with 6 winning 9 year olds and 4 winning 8 year olds during this time period
  • 18 of the last 19 winners had raced in less than 12 chases

Magic Saint is a consistent performer, having made the frame in five from seven over fences, and warmed up for this race with victory over Gino Trail at Wincanton last month. Conditions and trip are a positive and both trainer and jockey continue in excellent form so I am expecting a big run and hopefully a win.

Le Prezien won this race last season and is only 1lbs higher this time around. Twice a winner at the course, he isn’t without a chance but in truth has struggled since last seasons’ victory and would need to bounce back.

Whatswrongwithyou and Not Another Muddle both have decent records over todays’ trip and are others who have place possibilities.

Magic Saint 5/1 (coral) – 1pt win Lost-1pt


Friday – Martin Pipe

  • 6 of the last 7 winners were rated 138+
  • Only 1 winning favourite from 10, only 2 winners from 10 have come from the top 3 in the betting
  • Pay attention to Gigginstown House Stud runners
  • W Mullins, G Elliott & P Nicholls all tend to do well with their runners in this race

Gordon Elliott has won this race for the last two years and has the heavily supported favourite in Dallas Des Pictons. Rated 140, the Gigginstown House Stud runner was an excellent second behind Ballymore winner City Island in December and has since won two in a row, at Punchestown and back at Leopardstown respectively. Putting aside the fact that the favourite has a poor recent record in the race, he brings solid form in to the race and fits many of the other race stats so deserves his place at the head of the market.

Worth also noting that Gordon Elliott also runs Cartwright and Defi Bleu who both look to have each way chances.

Acapella Bourgeois has won three races at Grade 2 level, has four wins and thee placed from seven over the trip and races for Willie Mullins who boasts three victories since 2011 so at first glance looks a big price for the finale. He could be worth an each way play in the hope that he is ready to go after fourteen months off, although also comes with risks attached as he has failed to complete in two of his last three runs.

Early Doors placed in this race last season and is 3lbs higher this time round, despite not visiting the winners’ enclosure since November 2017. That said, his last two runs came at Grade 1 level when taking on the likes of Apples Jade and Supasundae so it would be no surprise to see a big run.

Dallas Des Pictons 7/2 (B365) – 1pt win Lost-1pt


Day 1 +3pts

Day 2 -4.75pts

Day 3 +6.25pts

Day 4 even

Total +4.5pts

winners at 10/1, 6/1, 6/1, 3/1 & 2/1

placed runners at 25/1 & 14/1