Cheltenham 2018 – Coral Cup Preview

Ceebee looks again at the Coral Cup and he has a bet on 50/1 Royal Vacation.

Coral Cup

Part Two - I’ve already backed William Henry at 12/1 for the Coral Cup but am having another bet in it.

It’s a little early to be heavily involved in something like the Coral Cup but at 50/1 I can’t wait until the day for the extra places. Royal Vacation is the selection. This was mentioned as his target at a recent media event.

Colin Tizzard’s charge races off a mark of 142 which is the main attraction. He impressively won a handicap chase off 143 on Trials Day ’17 and went up 9lbs for it. He went for the RSA after that which was just too big of an ask for him. He has had his sights lowered this time around.

His form tailed off last spring and he didn’t recapture anything until his latest effort on New Year’s Day. It’s easy ignore some of that as Tizzard was out of form through the winter but they seem to be going well again now. Royal Vacation’s latest effort in the Relkeel was decent. In what was really a confidence building run after disappointing efforts I’d be amazed if he can’t take a big step forward from it.

He led smart hurdlers into the home-straight at Cheltenham and only faded out of it late. All four who finished in front of him are rated north of 150. Wholestone is top-class at 2m4f. Agrapart won the Cleeve next time out (now 161). Old Guard won the G2 National Spirit Hurdle next time. The effort of Royal Vacation was one of a horse who’s better than 142.

Getting weight from borderline everything (he’s no.29 now) will be a much different but easier task. He doesn’t have the obvious profile for this, an 8yo reverting from chasing, but he has course form, ran well last time and looks well handicapped. At 50/1 that’ll do.

A quick note on some of the others in the Coral Cup. So many of these are entered in the County, Pertemps, Martin Pipe, Mares Hurdle and over fences that you couldn’t rule out the current no.80 getting a run.

I still like William Henry, his Lanzarote win is a key piece of form. Bleu et Rouge off 154 has nothing in hand. It’d be some performance to get Diamond King back to this level. Thomas Campbell looks on a very high mark although is classy and has great course form. Bleu Berry is a Mullins horse that got no mention at the media day but is worth a second look here. He’s unexposed as a handicapper. I can see why Duc Des Genievres could be very popular but I actually think he’s overrated after running on past beaten horses the last twice. Neither time was he put in a position to try win the race and was flattered as a result. Significant lack of experience also. Same goes for Sandsend. Ben Dundee will need to bounce back after a poor effort last time. Le Breuil has been very popular recently but I’m not sure his front running style is ideal here. Blow by Blow goes for the MPipe as does Flawless Escape and Diese des Bieffes. Hunters Call the County and Dortmund Park the Albert Bartlett.

Max Dynamite is 1 from 8 over hurdles. He’s been beaten in The County and two Galway Hurdles. Sure he’s a class act on the flat but I’d rather judge him on his hurdles form when looking here. The trip is also a bit of a question mark. Now 8/1 I’m happy to pass.

Some I do like include: River Frost 33/1 ran well in this race last year and again on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow, he’ll need good ground. Long House Hall 20/1 finished 2nd in 2016 and ran well off a higher chase mark on his first start after 18mts off in the SkyBet Chase. A strong travelling sort he’ll like the way this pans out. Red Indian 33/1 with only 6 hurdle starts should still be improving. He’s won or placed on every start including when third behind William Henry in the red-hot Lanzarote. Voix du Reve 25/1 fell at the last in the 2016 Fred Winter and went close in Sandown a month later also. He then missed 18mts and returned to try 3miles on soft ground twice. Back down in trip and on better ground he could be very well handicapped off a mark close to what he had as a 4yo on just his second start for Willie Mullins.

Advised Bet:

1pt e/w Royal Vacation at 50/1 with Paddy Power

Already advised

2pts e/w William Henry 12/1