Ceebee looks ahead to Cheltenham on Friday and has bets beginning with Gardens of Babylon and Lisp.
Day 3 recap – Defi du Seuil got the day off to the perfect start. I got the Pertemps wrong. I also got Frodon wrong. Sam Spinner ran a cracker at 40/1 each-way in the Stayers. Azzerti and the trio in the Kim Muir never really featured. Result -6pts. Still up just over 25pts for the Festival. One day to go…
Day 4 – Friday – Gold Cup Day
1.30 Triumph Hurdle
I was against Benie des Deaux which worked out fortunately but taking on Altior was costly. Sir Erec is the third short one I wanted to be against this week. He got a dream handy lead at Leopardstown and won’t have it as easy here.
Gardens of Babylon will love this greater test of stamina and may also improve for the application of cheekpieces. He got going very late on his 3 hurdles outings, but the form is solid; 1-2-2. He conceded 10lbs to the smart Surin when first defeated and then against Sir Erec he met loads of trouble off a slow pace but here off a stronger pace and uphill finish he can power home.
1pt e/w Gardens of Babylon at 10/1 with William Hill and Bet365
2.10 County Hurdle
Whiskey Sour is short enough for one beaten in this last year and well beaten in the Galway Hurdle also. He’ll need more luck in running and I’m not sure he has bundles of improvement in him.
Lisp is the sole selection. He has a touch of class about him winning or placing in 7 of 9 hurdle starts. He started this season, his second over hurdles, with an easy win at Fontwell. He then chased home Global Citizen at Newbury (winner now 13lbs higher after winning a G2 at Haydock next time & the 4th home won twice since and has gone up 10lbs). Next time Lisp was second in the Ladbroke – a perfect trial for this. He was a never nearer 8th in the Betfair but that was a strange race where very little got into it from off the pace. A return to his earlier season form can see this 5yo collect his biggest prize to date.
1pt e/w Lisp at 28/1 with Betfair
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle
There have been many impossible puzzles this week but this staying novice hurdle may just be the hardest. No bet for me. If pushed I like Commander of Fleet, Lisnagar Oscar and Derrinross. I don’t like Dinons or Birchdale. 40/1 First Approach would give you something to shout about too. His form in Ireland over an inadequate 2m4f is decent.
3.30 Gold Cup
What a race we have in store, hopefully it delivers. Last year’s 1st and 2nd clash again but there’s so much more to consider. Don’t get carried away with bets as any sort of result wouldn’t surprise, there’s only 2 outsiders of the 16 who have no chance.
Native River is the target, he’ll be on the front end and stays well, whatever gets past him after the last will win – it wouldn’t surprise me if none of them do however. His two efforts this year were only average but neither test would’ve suited. Clan des Obeaux had tests to suit, right-handed flat tracks – a very different test awaits here. Apparently Pat Kelly is a genius but I think he has hindered Presenting Percy’s chances with a preparation of not running over fences. Anibale Fly isn’t good enough, neither is the slow Elegant Escape, Thistlecrack won’t get home and Kemboy fluked his big Leopardstown win.
Invitation Only impressed in a strong running of the Thyestes and could outrun his odds for those who want a real long-shot but the best bet is probably his stablemate Al Boum Photo.
Al Boum is 20/1 mostly as a result of Ruby not picking him from the Mullins camp but I think he’s an improver with some class form to his name and will appreciate the trip and ground. A dual (well kind of) G1 winner last Spring claiming the Powers Gold Cup and G1 3m novice chase at Punchestown. He returned this season with an impressive win at Tramore (Invitation Only well beaten won the Thyestes next time). Try to back each-way where there are 4 places on offer.
1.5pt e/w Native River at 6/1 with William Hill (1/5 odds - 4 places)
1pt e/w Al Boum Photo at 16/1 with Bet365
4.10 Foxhunters Chase
Not a race I’ve any great opinion or knowledge of to be honest but some of those who do have, tipped Caid du Berlais so I’m happy to have a small play on him. He is ridden by one of the best amateurs, clearly in form having won a point-to-point just 12 days ago and has good Cheltenham form including when a close 5th in this 12mts ago.
1pt win Caid du Berlais at 7/1 with Bet365 and Betfair
4.50 Grand Annual Hcap Chase
Magic Saint is a handicap favourite I do like (a rare thing this week). Nicholls (who is going very well) loves him and thinks he is a G1 horse of the future but as just a 5yo has purposely trained and planned his season around this race. He was an easy winner last time at Wincanton after two more introductory type efforts before that. Off 149 the 5yo can outclass this exposed bunch.
Minds Eye will appreciate how the race is run but he’s not tough in a finish. Le Prezien won it last year and would prefer softer ground but is still handicapped to go close. Bun Doran was very impressive over C&D at the November meeting and goes well fresh so is probably the most likely danger to the favourite. Marracudja has been kept fresh for this and had a wind-op. He was second at Christmas and those either side of him have run well since. There could be more in him. Some of the rest are hard to fancy.
2pt win Magic Saint at 5/1 with William Hill
0.5pt e/w Bun Doran at 12/1 with William Hill and Bet365
0.5pt e/w Marracudja at 16/1 with Bet365