Day 3 saw some exceptional front running performance from Allaho and Flooring Porter. Prominent racers seemed to do pretty well all round and it’s an angle to keep in mind for the final day.
Rachael Blackmore is proving the star in the saddle at the Festival this week. Expect anything she rides on the final day to be well supported now
Thoughts for the final day of this year’s Festival:
1.20 Triumph Hurdle
Nothing has impressed me more in the juvenile division this year than ZANAHIYR’s success at Fairyhouse in November and I can’t oppose him here. He has had a break since Christmas (probably to avoid a hard race on deep ground) and if he is in the same form I’ll think he win this handsomely. The addition of a first-time tongue tie is something I wasn’t expecting and does plant one small question mark in my brain.
Alan King has had a great record in this race before and much of his quote of TRITONIC being his highest rated flat horse to go hurdling has been made. I find that a bit odd having seen his 7lb higher rated Scarlet Dragon hurdling before. His rating of 99 on the Flat makes him a decent type alright but I don’t think I’ve seen anything from him to make me think he will upset the favourite here
QUILIXIOS appeals more for second place but might have been suited more than the rest by a test on softer ground
SELECTION is ZANAHIYR though I think the value in his price has dried up now
1.55 County Hcap Hurdle
The Skelton team have a great record in this competitive race and field THIRD TIME LUCKI here. That record has undoubtedly forced his price down and I don’t see him in the same light as some previous Skelton winners who came into this on better handicap marks
I thought that Betfair Hurdle form would stand up better this week than it has and that now counts against FIFTY BALL (2nd), EDWARDSTONE (3rd), THYME WHITE (9th) and MILKWOOD (11th).
I think MILKWOOD will run better here as he may have needed that race after a break and should get the drier conditions he loves. However I do feel that a flat track may suit him better and the uphill finish is against him
GANAPATHI is dropped down considerably in trip and far too short for me at the front of the market (he does remian unexposed). Elsewhere from Ireland. YOU RAISED ME UP is progressive and breeding suggests the better ground should be right up his street. The handicapper hasn’t been kind with an 11lb hike from his latest Irish winning mark. Right at the bottom, CAPTAIN KANGAROO also appeals as the type who might benefit from better ground. He’ll have to brush up his jumping at this level but has a win over Wednesday’s Bumper second Klicruit if you go back on his CV.
In a very hard race, I will take a chance with a big outsider in LE PATRIOTE. At 9 years old he isn’t exactly under the radar but after a chasing spell this season he is back hurdling on a 5lb lower mark than when last in this sphere. That was when he was in last year’s Champion Hurdle and although finishing in the rear he didn’t run at all badly for a 100/1 shot
Good ground is most definitely a plus for this horse and he did win the competitive Swinton Hurdle off a 3lb higher mark in 2019. He also has winning form at this course. His trainer, Dr Newland is no fool in this sort of race and the 7lb claim from Cillin Leonard is no disadvantage in a race like this where every pound counts
A very tricky race but I’m happy to take a punt on LE PATRIOTE each way at 40/1+ with up to 7/8 places available if you shop around
2.30 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Usually this is an attritional race and the best one to slog it out takes the prize. There is no standout performer here this year reflected in the fact that the top 8 rated runners sit within 4lbs of each other on official ratings. Additionally all of them have been performing on softer surfaces than they will see here so it’s a bit of guesswork who will come out best.
STATTLER came out ahead of FAKIERA and VANILLIER in the main Irish trial but that was over a shorter trip and the way FAKIERA finished suggested a reversal of form wouldn’t be a shock. VANILLIER ran badly that day but did have an excuse and wouldn’t be out of this either at big odds.
ADRIMEL impressed me most of the home contingent when stepped up in trip at Warwick giving the distinct impression he was just doing enough – a good trait to have in this race. He has only raced on soft but over this longer trip the ground may come to his aid if he can handle it.
STREETS OF DOYEN has course winning form and although a few more pounds behind on ratings he is the one who will know will appreciate the faster going
This is a very open race and hard to rule out anything completely as we are largely in the dark as to who will prosper or fall on the Spring ground. No Bet
3.05 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Blue Riband event would be so much easier to unravel if the ground were soft
I think the best performance in this race of recent years came from NATIVE RIVER back in 2018 and would be backing him again if by some miracle there was a deluge
On good ground he is likely to get outpaced but his presence at the front will still ensure a good pace with him and FRODON putting the others to the sword in the jumping department
FRODON would be a highly popular winner under regular rider Bryony Frost. He can operate on good ground but he is best when he can get all of his own way up front. He might not get that here with Native River in the race
AL BOUM PHOTO has won this race the last twice. Somehow he has never gripped the public imagination despite this feat. It could be that we just don’t see him on the racecourse enough but I also think having such a weird name doesn’t help his cause!
He again comes here with a strong chance but there is also a suspicion here he might want the ground to be a little bit softer
A PLUS TARD is going to be very popular and has good past form at the Festival at shorter trips. Rachael Blackmore being on board is what is keeping his price low now. Again I wonder here if he’s prefer a little bit more cut.
MINELLA INDO (rejected by Blackmore), unexposed ROYALE PAGAILLE and most definitely SANTINI are others whose best form has been on softer
I think on pure ability, CHAMP would come out top of the tree here. His preparation for this was unconventional in a two mile race but he did give Sceau Royal a scare there and that one was very unlucky not to go close in Wednesday’s Champion Chase. If that has taught him to jump at speed I think he is the horse to beat here but he has often been one who looks to lose concentration and can make mistakes. He can’t afford to do that here
Lastly, I have to mention LOSTINTRANSLATION. He was 3rd here last year and is the horse I think who should be best suited by the ground. The trouble is his form since then has not come anywhere close to the same level. Tizzard runners haave just started to come form this week after a dismal year – but it takes a leap of faith to hope he can come back to his best here
If he can get a blemish free jumping round I think CHAMP can win….but that is a big if! FRODON’s chances would increase greatly if NATIVE RIVER wasn’t in the race so take note if the drying ground doesn make the latter a Non Runner. For a real long priced punt then LOSTINTRANSLATION may be worth a tickle in the hope he does come back to his best form
As much as I am looking forward to this race, it won’t be because I have a heavy financial interest in it
3.0 Foxhunters Chase
The last race being run this week that would normally be the domain of Amateur riders. I would, in previous editions, normally just be looking at Jamie Codd, Derek O’ Connor, Patrick Mullins et al mounts here as would expect them to judge the pace best. With professionals now on board we can expect a more evenly run contest
BOB AND CO is the main UK hope but I cant erase his performance from my head at warwick last year. His owner/rider couldn’t control him then and he was pulled up. He hasn’t been beaten since (in small fields) but there is a quirk there for sure.
RED INDIAN has good form but has shown too much of a liking for Soft ground for me. Favourite BILLAWAY also has jumping issues which puts me off him
My pick is LATENIGHTPASS who surprised many when winning a very strongly run Warwick race last time from the front. Warwick is more of a speed course than here but it has some of the stiffest fences in the UK and if you can jump there you should be fine here. This one also has course winning form and more importantly he is back on the ground that seems to suit him best
He is another who has shown wayward tendencies in the past but I didn’t see any of that last time. He’s a prominent racing type and that seems to be a positive in recent days
Back LATENIGHTPASS each way with 4 places offered by most firms – 25/1 looks a value price to me here
The last two races on the card aren’t really tempting me from a betting angle
4.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase
A new race at the Festival and, for me, quite a disappointing turnout. ELIMAY gave Allaho more of a race than anything managed to in the Ryanair today and her price tumbled on the back of his win. She is the standout contender and should win on form but a word of caution – she is quite a small mare and these fences will provide a test for her
Stablemate COLREEVY is the obvious danger but has to give weight away all round in a strange penalty structure for this race (why any ‘Championship’ race should have penalties baffles me)
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap
The ‘getting out ‘ race is far too difficult for me
GENTLEMAN DE MEE headsthe market and is totally unexposed. He could be thrown in but its impossible to tell on his form
LANGER DAN was very impressive at Sandown last weekend but that was over a shorter trip and on desperate ground.
There are several others at the head of the market who may be ahead of their marks and watching the betting to see where the money goes should be the best guide here
Thanks for reading the final post of the week and hope it’s been a successful one for all. I will be back again with the usual Grand National post the day before the race