Cheltenham 2016 Day 4
Day 3 review
Vautour put to bed any rumours about his well-being with an authoritative win in the Ryanair. Thistlecrack then continued his domination of the 3 mile division with one of the most impressive wins you’ll see in the World Hurdle. As an 8yo you wonder if he’s already too old to embark on a chasing career.If he stays hurdling he should dominate this division for some time. The second, Alpha Des Obeaux, only 6 already looks a huge prospect as an RSA horse next year.
For the blog selections it was place returns from Our Kaempfer (5th) and Al Ferof (3rd in without favourite market)
Smart Talk was very disappointing – didnt look to cope with the downhill well to me.
Top Wood was still bang there and travelling very well when coming down at the top of the hill. He looked like he would have been involved in the finish at the time but the way Cause of Causes came home up the hill, it was probably unlikely he would have won
Out of 10 pts staked on Thursday there was therefore a return of 6.8 pts (3.2 pt loss)
Ultimately a day for the punters though with Limini delivering the final twist of the knife to bookies in the Mares Novice Hurdle. The three short priced favs of the day all winning
As per usual the final day kicks off with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 – the 2 mile championship for 4yo hurdlers.
I already covered this in my weekend preview and stick with Who Dares Wins who I think will get the ground and strong pace that will see him at best effect.
I rate both him and Clan Des Obeaux much better than the bare form of their last race as they both started to joust far too early then on some very deep ground. Clan des Obeaux would have been a really big danger for me if the ground were a bit softer.
Zubayr is feared also. The Adonis Hurdle he won at Kempton has long been a good trial for this and his preparation is identical to Nicholls’s previous winner Zarkandar.
Ivanovich Gorbatov may well be a lot better on this decent ground than he was when behind Footpad at Leopardstown but is awful value at current odds. I don’t think that race is the strongest line of form here. It was also run on very bad ground and into a strong headwind – the form of that race could easily be turned around here
1pt ew WHO DARES WINS @12/1
Another fiercely competitive hcap hurdle with any number of potential plots.
Great Field and Blue Hell are two Irish raiders who fit that bill but are already plenty short enough at single figure odds.
My two against the field at bigger odds have both been waiting for the better ground they will get here.
John Constable had to be taken out of the Betfair Hurdle in February because of the ground and Evan Williams has been happy to bide his time until the weather improved. He got the closest to an enterprisingly ridden Sternrubin before Christmas but in so doing looked to be a horse to follow from his mark.
Some Plan has also been waiting for the good ground since an eyecatching run at Ascot (also behind Sternrubin). I have heard this has been the aim for some time. A little bit concerned he may want a less testing track but I’m very happy to see Harry Cobden on board to take off a valuable 5lbs (already seen to great effect on Old Guard earlier this season)
0.75 pts ew JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/4 odds 12345)
0.5 pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1 (Corals – not paying 5th place but win odds make up for that)
Barters Hill is unbeaten and thoroughly likeable as he doesn’t let anything pass him. His last win was a bit unconvincing but it subsequently transpired he had lost a show during the race so it was excusable.
It’s more worrying that news emanated from the stable today that the horse had seemed a little stiff after working at home.
It will be very hard to win a race like this with his front running style but he sets the standard on form.
I think we can expect his price to drift however based on the latest rumours.
Shantou Village was no match for Yanworth last time but won’t have anything like that to deal with here. He shapes like this trip will suit and the better ground should also be in his favour.
Up For Review was sharing Ante Post favouritism for this race earlier this year before he was soundly beaten by Barters Hill at Doncaster. Mullins’s horses all ran badly that day (Shaneshill on same card bounced back yesterday to run a great 2nd in the RSA). He was described as a nervous type subsequently so I would be a little concerned if he’ll cope with this occasion
Of all the Mullins runners available to him, Ruby Walsh has picked Long Dog and he is at the top of my shortlist for this race. He is unproven over this trip but gives the impression he will stay. He got some favourable mentions at previews when it looked like the Neptune was more likely for him. Davy Russell even suggested he would be 5/2 fav if he ran in this. He’s been shown to be a little out on that assumption but I don’t think he should be 8/1 now that Ruby is on board.
Ruby wouldn’t have had the choice of Gigginstown runner, Gangster, who was supposedly the horse who beat Vautour in a gallop recently. If thats true we should see his price shorten. How much we read into that I’m not sure if today’s Ryanair winner was under par at the time. Strictly on form he still has something to find.
Bleu Et Rouge will be facing totally different conditions than his battling win over 2 miles at Leopardstown
1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1 (generally available but make sure of firms paying 1/4 odds a place rather than 1/5th)
The Gold Cup – the centrepiece of the meeting.
I’m assuming that Road to Riches won’t run after his exertions in the Ryanair on Thursday.
A run down of the runners (numbers in brackets are previous form on the course which I think is relevant here – the last number being the most recent effort)
Don Cossack B. J. Cooper (F3)
Brilliant winner at Aintree last season and possibly unlucky when falling at Kempton where he ran a bit in snatches. Some have expressed concerns that Cooper doesn’t get on with him as well as other jockeys but I’m more worried about his previous form on this course which suggests he doesn’t act on it as well as a flat track. The good ground will suit him.
Djakadam R. Walsh (F2F)
Last year’s Gold Cup 2nd but that is the only time he has completed here in 3 attempts. May want softer ground and would be worried that he still has the memory of his last run here where he needed several stitches afterwards
Cue Card Paddy Brennan ( 1241U21)
A regular here since winning the Festival bumper in 2010 (also successful in Ryanair in 2013). Revitalised this season since a breathing operation and now looks much more a stayer. Used to run more freely and stamina was a question mark. His dam was a good stayer and gives very encouragement now that he will last over this trip.
Don Poli Davy Russell ( 11)
Unbeaten at Cheltenham in two attempts gives him the best course record in the field. His form doesn’t quite match up to some of the others but he’s a lazy type who just does enough. If he’s close up as they come round the home turn the rest should be frightened on the uphill finish – but will he have the speed to lie up with them on this quicker ground (softer may have been preferred). Davy Russell gets the leg up on Bryan Cooper’s cast off – but it’s Russell who is riding the better so far this week.
Smad Place Wayne Hutchinson ( 0332201)
Another horse who has seen his career flourish since a wind operation. Didn’t have his own way up front when well beaten in King George. With Vautour and probably Road to Riches out he now may get an uncontested lead which increases his chance. Still something to find on form but not out of it
Road To Riches (3)
Last year’s third is a very doubtful runner
Carlingford Lough Barry Geraghty (00)
Saves his best for Leopardstown. Has twice come here fancied and disappointed on the course
Ofaolains Boy Noel Fehily (41P0)
Previous RSA winner (beating Smad Place). Had his problems since and would seem to need soft ground nowadays which he wont get here
On His Own Mr P. W. Mullins ( 04P20U ) (U cross country)
Previous runner-up but form someway off that level now
Irish Cavalier P. Townend (310P)
Has won at the course but is outclassed here on all previous for
As mentioned in the weekend preview blog I’m strongly with Cue Card here as I think he’ll be better still on this course than at Kempton. He may or may not have won that day if Don Cossack had stood up but he is far more proven on this course than that one.
Smad Place is feared if he is left alone up front as he may now get an easy lead. Don Poli would be the one I wouldn’t want to be seeing close by coming down the hill but think the ground may have gone against him and he’s too short a price on his bare form
2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1 (1/4 123 – generally available)
There’s a bit of a feeling of a wind down after the Gold Cup normally but the Foxhunters at 4.10 will get plenty of media attention now with Victoria Pendleton on board Pacha Du Polder. The horse is well worth its place in this race but ‘Pendo’ is a long way behind ability wise compared to some of the top amateur riders she faces here. She’s been riding against similar inexperienced riders in her build up to this but is at a huge disadvantage here. I just hope she gets round safely more than anything but give her very little chance of reaching the frame.
On The Fringe won this easily this year and was given a very easy introduction last time in heavy conditions at Leopardstown. Expect to see far better here but I can’t say I was bowled over by the horse the first time I saw him in the paddock there
He’s the one to beat but I won’t be betting on him this year
I don’t have an opinion in the 4.50 currently but there’s an interesting outsider in the last.
Barters Hill’s trainer Ben Pauling fields an interesting outsider here in Ravens Tower, who has outdone himself before at this meeting as a 4yo hurdler. He won well last time on ground that shouldn’t really suit. It’s clear to me he’s a horse who will always be seen to best advantage on good ground, in a competitive race with a strong gallop. All these things he will get here. He is a novice, and as we saw with Out Sam earlier in the week, this sort of race can be too much for them early on in their careers. Novices do have a decent record in this race though and Ravens Tower appears a sound jumper on what I’ve seen thus far
He’s worth a small interest in what could be his optimum conditions
0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 12345 – others may enhance later on this)
EXTRA SELECTIONS (added 1900 GMT Thurs evening)
Further review of the last 2 races and I have two extra selections.
Lucinda Russell is in tremendous form currently after quite a barren spell early in 2016. She sends one runner down from Scotland this week and such is her strike rate now I have to make Sky Khan a bet at huge odds of 66/1 in the 4.50. Squoauteur looks an obvious plot in this race to give Gordon Elliott another hcap win but he is already very short in odds
0.5 pts ew Sky Khan 66/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 5 places)
In the final race I’m also adding Dan Skelton’s Workbench at a big price. Dan’s runners have been performing well this week without winning and this one will be happy to be back on a sound surface. He ran well at the track before Christmas before disappointing on softer ground and is another I feel is overpriced
0.5 pts ew Workbench 33/1 (365 again offering the best place terms with 5 places)
It’ll be hard to come close to the reaction of Sprinter Sacre’s win on Wednesday, but if Cue Card were to prevail and secure a £1 million bonus it would put the icing on the cake this week
Good luck for the final day with whatever you back
Thanks for reading
(Prices may have changed since selections were posted on Thursday – Ravens Tower was a selection of Pricewise last night for instance)
1pt ew WHO DARES WINS 12/1
0.75 pts ew JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (with 5 places)
0.5pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1
1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1
2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1
0.5 pts ew SKY KHAN 66/1 (with 5 places)
0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (with 5 places)
0.5 pts ew WORKBENCH 33/1 (with 5 places)
Total stakes for day 14.5 pts