STAR PREVIEW: Cheltenham Friday

Cheltenham Festival 2020
Prestbury Park, Cheltenham
Tuesday 10th – Friday 13th March

Triumph Hurdle: 1:30

Racing Live on ITV1 HD from 1pm
Coverage from 9am on Racing TV HD

A terrible third day, with only Min stemming the flow, and due apologies for that performance and the rest of this week. We go again, ahead of the final day.

We’ve had many really good races this week but few on paper have the potential of the Triumph (1.30) with the season’s four leading juvenile hurdlers taking each other on. One can make a convincing case for Goshen, Solo, Allmankind and Aspire Tower, with Allmankind getting the vote. Harry Skelton’s charge is one of more than a few headstrong front runners here but that did not stop him absolutely slamming Cerberus in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle, when he was challenged by the JP McManus runner after making an extremely strong pace on heavy ground, only to then draw nine lengths clear. That form received a huge boost when Cerberus was a close third in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, where Aspire Tower was under pressure before falling, and it’s also greatly encouraging that he was so impressive here in November. This is obviously a tremendously well contested renewal, but he makes the most appeal.

Willie Mullins has had ‘only’ the two winners at the Festival but that is not for a lack of trying and he holds a strong hand in the County (2.10) with Saint Roi, Aramon and Ciel De Neige heading the market. Preference is for Ciel De Niege, who made a good debut for his yard when third in the Fred Winter last year. He was then an excellent second in the Betfair Hurdle last time having been backed into favouritism, and off just a 4lbs higher mark, can play another big hand here. Three of his four starts have been placed efforts in big field handicaps and that should stand him in good stead.

Stolen Silver was eighth there, but after being caught flat footed by the standing start and them hampered at the first, the Twiston Davies’ five-year-old was second last with two hurdles to go, before then finishing eighth. That was a fair closing effort and today, with a less interrupted run, should suit him more given the hill and likely strong pace. He attempted to give Chantry House 6lbs here in December, and then caught Supreme sixth Edwardstone with a rattling late run at Haydock too. He just pips Elusive Belle for the second vote.

Finding the winner of the Albert Bartlett (2.50) has been a tricky task in recent renewals with plenty of big priced winners in recent years. There are many live chances here, but one way to identify potential winners is to look for experienced horses. Minella Indo broke the trend last year when he won the track on just his third start, but all previous winners had at least three runs. In fact, 9 out of the 12 winners had at least 4 runs over hurdles and 7/12 winners had at least 3 previous wins over hurdles, so plenty of miles on the clock is no bad thing and that draws the eye to Ramses De Teillee, an eight-year-old who has made hay for connections after reverting to hurdles. In two hurdling runs this season, the former Welsh National runner up has won the River Don Novices’ Hurdle by 17 lengths and then the Prestige Novices’ Hurdle when giving a penalty to the runner up. A sound jumper, his huge stamina reserves ought to give him an excellent chance and his experience should stand him in good stead. The form of the Tizzards’ hasn’t been great, but Harry Senior was so impressive when winning a trial for the Ballymore that he has to be chanced here. His form ties with Sporting John and Edwardstone look really strong in hindsight and he’s bred to thrive at this trip.

A whole host of Irish challengers, led by Latest Exhibition, give real strength to the race and Thyme Hill will also be tough to kick out of the frame.

No bet is recommended on the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30) which is a contest that should be enjoyed. Al Boum Photo, Delta Work, Santini, Clan Des Obeaux, Kemboy, and Lostintranslation all have big chances on their best form and it should be a thriller.

The Foxhunters (4.10) also looks to be a really strong renewal, where the market has things about right in making Minella Rocco, a winner over last year’s Champion Hazel Hill at Wetherby last time, favourite. If pushed he’s the choice to beat Hazel Hill, Billaway, Shantou Flyer and Stalker Wallace in a deep renewal.

Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown have had a tremendous week and Eclair De Beaufeu, a convincing winner of the Matthewson Handicap Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival when last seen. He looked a horse who had a great deal of improvement to come in handicaps, and a strongly run race ought to suit this six-year-old who won’t be bothered by drying ground here. Runner up that day Paloma Blue was badly hampered, and last year’s Arkle sixth (hated ground) can go well once again assuming he doesn’t get his feet stuck.

The Martin Pipe (5.30) has quickly become an Irish benefit, with six of the nine winners coming from over the water, and they have a strong chance of taking the last prize again. Front View, a promising five-year-old who represents last year’s winning team of Joseph O’Brien, Jonjo O’Neill Junior and JP McManus. He ought to go well but it is a surprise that Five O’Clock, who beat him by six lengths Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle, is nearly double the price. The handicapper has weighted them to finish level, so it is hard to explain the discrepancy in the market between the two and Willie Mullins has a fine record in the race. Column Of Fire ran a cracking third in the William Fry handicap hurdle and this drop back in trip really won’t harm his chances, as an impressive maiden winner at the distance before that run – he’s the main threat.

A final note. A huge thanks to everyone who’s read the preview this week, and to David Stewart, who has worked around the clock to get them ready. Hopefully we get a winner or two to show for it!

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Allmankind 2 pts win in 1:30 Cheltenham at 4/1 with
BACK Ciel De Niege 2 pts win in 2.10 Cheltenham at 4/1 with
BACK Stolen Silver 1 pt each/way in 2.10 Cheltenham at 12/1 with
BACK Ramses De Teillee 1 pt each/way in 2.50 Cheltenham at 12/1 with
BACK Harry Senior 1 pt each/way in in 2.50 Cheltenham at 16/1 with
BACK Eclair De Beaufeu 1 pt each/way in 4.50 Cheltenham at 8/1 with
BACK Paloma Blue 1 pt each/way in 4.50 Cheltenham at 11/1 with
BACK Five O’Clock 1 pt each/way in 5.30 Cheltenham at 13/2 with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 188.03 points
(Excluding Premier League ante-post, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Labour Leadership Contest, Cameron Brown Football Bets, New Hampshire Primary)