Ceebee previews Friday's Cheltenham card and he has bets that include Defi Du Seuil in the Triumph, Djakadam and Champagne West in the Gold Cup and Croco Bay in the Grand Annual.
Triumph Hurdle 2m1f
The favourite here is rock-solid. Written the weekend before Cheltenham begins – he’s the best favourite of the week. Defi Du Seuil has course form, ability to win slowly run and truly run races, handles decent ground and won on heavy. He has barely come off the bridle to win all of his juvenile hurdles. He’ll be just the fourth favourite I’m tipping and backing this week. Hopefully he’s more ‘Might Bite’ than ‘Yanworth’. The opposition isn’t too scary.
The second favourite, Charli Parcs, comes in on the back of a fall when looking like he could be beaten (by Master Blueyes) at odds on. Master Blueyes has won 4yo hurdles that were slowly run and turned into a sprint. This test will be very different. The Irish challenge is headed by Mega Fortune but he could find the pace a little hot on good ground – he benefitted from soft ground and an aggressive staying ride in Leopardstown last time.
3pts win Defi Du Seuil at 9/4 with Betfred, Coral and William Hill
County Hurdle Hcap 2m1f
Similar to the other big field handicap hurdles at the Festival this one is not easy to find the winner of and luck in running is key. Here’s a few I like:
Mick Jazz was unlucky when 3rd at Fairyhouse earlier this year. Held up and given lots to do before a bad mistake at the second last - that was his sole handicap outing of the season. There’s a lot more in him. This race will be ideal for him. He needs to be buried at the back of a big field, off a strong pace and delivered late. I think if he had to have run in the Supreme he wouldn’t have been out of place, one of the best novices in Ireland and this test should be ideal. Oh and trainer form couldn’t be any better.
North Hill Harvey is an obvious favourite but has a right chance. Kept for this after winning a similar event (the Greatwood) at Cheltenham in November. The form of last year’s Supreme Hurdle when he was a little unlucky not to finish closer has worked out brilliantly this year (and this week). With conditions in his favour and connections proved last year they can pull this off, it’ll take a progressive sort to beat him.
If you must back a long-shot (never a bad idea in these events) Bertimont could go well. He’s been running well recently.
1pt e/w North Hill Harvey at 8/1 Paddy Power (each way 6 places)
1pt e/w Mick Jazz at 8/1 with Boylesports and Bet365
Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle 3miles
This is a tricky race and historically a tough betting race to get right also. As I’m typing this Elliott has had 5 winners and he declared Death Duty as one of the best he’s ever had. If you believe that you’re happy to take the short odds. Personally I’ll just watch.
Gold Cup 3m2f
There’s a detailed preview of this race HERE. It was written a few weeks ago now (pre Thistlecrack and Don Poli injuries) but I still believe everything in it. Champagne West is a risky jumper but if he puts it all together he could spring a surprise. De Bromhead has already collected the Champion Chase, 2nd in Ryanair and had a 3rd in the Champion Hurdle. Djakadam is fairly solid and I’d favour him over both of the Tizzard duo of Cue Card (too old) and Native River (too slow). Bristol de Mai might have got the nod as best long-shot but stable form is a big worry there so instead I’ll give Irish Cavalier the nod. In a race full of prominent racers forcing the pace this guy will be held up and ridden through late to pick up the pieces. But it’s not an e/w race with 14 runners.
1pt win Champagne West at 22/1 with Betfair
1pt win Djakadam at 10/3 with Betfair
Foxhunters Chase 3m2f
On The Fringe has been a legend in this race over the past few seasons. He has been at Aintree and Punchestown too but age waits for no man/horse.
Wonderful Charm isn’t a guaranteed stayer over 3m2f, even at this level, so preference is for Ask the Weatherman
Martin Pipe Conditionals Hcap Hurdle 2m5f
It’s been a long week; dissecting a handicap hurdle of this depth isn’t overly appealing to be brutally honest. The early entries had Tin Soldier, Automated and The Storyteller as the eyecatchers but they have either run already this week or been ruled out with injury.
Taglietelle is the only bet I’ll have (actually had already) here. He was beaten 1L in the 2015 Coral Cup where he was the only one of the placed horses to come from off the pace. With more luck he’d have won. He went up 5lbs but still won at Aintree next time. Good ground in the spring is clearly key. He placed in the Pertemps last year off 154 so today’s mark of 145 is certainly of interest and obviously the yard is in great form. Decent conditional up, ignore recent runs on soft ground. 25/1 each way happy days.
1.5pts e/w Tagliatelle at 25/1 with Bet365
Grand Annual Hcap Chase 2miles
Despite it signaling the end for another 363 days I actually enjoy the Grand Annual from a betting perspective.
Rock the World could go close as he did last year but I don’t see where the extra 4 or 5lbs he’ll need are going to come from. Le Prezien is the correct favourite, he’s a well handicapped novice with course form. I’m just not rushing to take 6s about a novice in this speed jumping test.
Velvet Maker was well fancied for this race 12mts ago but a combination of a shocking ride and just being too free ruined any chance he had. That was his only handicap chase start- he’s a very unexposed horse. Down 2lbs this year and with a decent reappearance over hurdles at Leopardstown he can give his full showing today.
Croco Bay is a bit of a shot in the dark. I really fancied him for this race last year (off 147) – mostly because he was 3rd in the 2015 renewal off 149 - but 12mts on he’s racing off a mark of 141, wearing first time cheekpieces and ran ok last time out. The faster pace and good ground should suit. His last win came off 141 on good ground last summer.
1.5pts e/w Velvet Maker at 12/1 with William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair
1pt e/w Croco Bay at 33/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair
Summary of bets for Day Four:
To the Gold Cup first – win only on Djakadam and Champagne West is my approach. I think the first favourite, Defi Du Seuil, is worth a bet whilst Mick Jazz in the County and Velvet Maker in the Grand Annual might make a nice e/w double whilst Tagliatelle or Croco Bay will give us a shot at going out in style.