DAVY RUSSELL: Cheltenham Festival Friday

Black Tears ran a blinder for me in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Thursday. She’s been good all season but I thought beforehand this was a massive step-up in class for her but she gave me a great spin in finishing fourth and might well have done better still but for taking a bump just before the last.

On now to the final day of the meeting with my thoughts on all the races – including of course Presenting Percy in the Gold Cup.



COEUR SUBLIME (1:30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1))

A little more rain won’t inconvenience him but he has something to find on his form so far – the latest of which fourth to Darasso in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran. Sir Erec is clearly the one we all have to beat. He was so impressive when winning the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle in Leopardstown and has winning form on soft ground in France on the flat and it’s hard to find many negatives.

MITCHOUKA (2:10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3))

I know him so well – he looked like making a winning chasing debut before falling at the last in Gowran but hasn’t been able to build on that since over fences. He was switched back to hurdles the last day at Leopardstown and now contests this wide open County. There are so many dangers but the Willie Mullins trained Whiskey Sour, lurking towards the bottom of the weights, looks one of the more interesting.

DINONS (2:50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1))

Loads of experience but the ground is a little bit of a worry for me as he struck me as a summer horse when building up a winning sequence last year. He does bring experience to the party and hopefully he has now strengthened up for a battle like this. Two against the field, who should appreciate the ground, are Derrinross and Gordon’s (Elliott) other runner in the race Commander In Fleet – stable companion of Dinons.

PRESENTING PERCY (3:30pm Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1))

I’m glad the rain seems to have gone and hopefully that stays the case as I’ve always said he wouldn’t want extremes of ground. I obviously can’t wait to get back aboard him. There’s been plenty made about him not having run since January but Pat (Kelly) and the team are happy and that’s more than good enough for me and we’ll be racing on fresh ground Friday which will help.

Presenting Percy has a superb record at Cheltenham and goes for a hat-trick after his Pertemps win in 2017 and the RSA (pictured) last year. He’s done really well in his prep work and he jumped nicely in a schooling session at Galway a couple of weeks back. It’s a wide open Gold Cup on paper – last year’s winner Native River, King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Bellshill can all be given very strong claims.

4:10pm St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Looks as competitive as ever but I thought Shantou Flyer looks interesting. He’s hit a real winning groove in point to points and hunter chases and has great course form. Gordon’s Ucello Conti has done very little wrong and I though it was a very high quality hunter chase he won the last day at Navan.

4:50pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

No ride for me here but Tree Of Liberty could be sneaking in off a reasonable weight for trainer Kerry Lee. The sole Irish raider Mind’s Eye could be unexposed but is a big ask for a novice.

5:30pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Big field for the last race of the meeting – I like both Getareason who has loads of experience and Gordon’s Dallas Des Pictons who won well the last day and I don’t think the drop back in trip is a problem – in fact it could be a plus. Both Gordon and Willie (Mullins) have a great record in the race so they seem good options.




If you have a question for Davy drop us a line at content@starsportsbet.co.uk and we’ll try and include in the next blog…