STAR PREVIEW Fri: Cheltenham Festival 2022 | Day Four
Hello one and all, and welcome to Gold Cup day! Thanks for reading these previews this week, and also to Joe Citrone for his tireless work editing them and making them readable!
Yesterday wasn’t our day, but hopefully we can find a winner or two on another fantastic day’s racing.
Simon Nott’s latest betting report finally saw some respite for Star, and that must-read is here: https://www.starsportsbet.co.uk/simon-nott-betting-report-cheltenham-thursday/
And on a huge day for Davy Russell, his thoughts are here:
Good luck all!
The 2022 Cheltenham Festival
Live on ITV 1 HD & ITV Hub from 12.50pm
Live on Racing TV from 10.00am with Mark Your Card
1.30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle 2m1f (2m179y)
A cracking renewal with 6lbs separating half the field on official ratings. Vauban’s impressive defeat of Fil Dor (Il Etait Temps third) at the Dublin Racing Festival looks to be the best form on balance but Pied Piper outjumped him when the pair met on their hurdling debut when Pied Piper appeared to travel the better of the pair. He may not have beaten all that much when hosing up here on Trials Day but it was fine preparation for a crack at this and he should go close.
Vuaban, Fil Dor, and Il Etait Temps may be closer than the betting suggests but don’t forget a strong home challenge, including Knight Salute and Porticello, who have taken nearly all the graded juvenile hurdles between them on this side of the water. Knight Salute, a winner here back in November who found a jump at the last when Teddy Blue didn’t in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, would be just favoured of the home challenge.
2.10 – McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle 2m1f (2m179y)
A whole host of contenders so don’t be afraid to have a swing at anything you fancy and remember that we have each/way extra places on site too. There’s no prizes for finding these two but Colonel Mustard has been placed in four graded novice hurdles over the last 12 months, including behind Jonbon and Sir Gerhard the last twice. All things being equal he’ll run a huge race off 140.
West Cork was trained brilliantly to win the Greatwood Hurdle on his return after a 600 day absence and he looked as if he’d be in with a serious chance of doing a big double in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot (Tritonic won) before suffering an overreach, and if over that and back to full fitness then he has serious claims; The Greatwood looks to be one of the strongest handicap hurdles of the season based on the subsequent runs of those in behind.
2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 3m (2m7f213y)
Difficult to get away from Henry Daly’s giant Hillcrest or Gordon Eliott’s GInto but 10/1 looks very big about Minella Cocooner, who produced a fine front running performance to take the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last time. He was ridden brilliantly that day by Danny Mullins but he showed an excellent attitude there and the form looks as strong as any of the front pair and a line through Hollow Games then there isn’t much to separate him and Ginto; and certainly there shouldn’t be a pretty big price difference between the pair.
Experienced horses do well in this event, and Good Time Johnny and Bardenstown Lad could be smart placepot choices after very creditable seasons here. Henry de Bromhead’s Shantreusse can also be expected to play a major role.
3.30 – Gold Cup
A cracking renewal and a most open one, with all but 2 horses having shown the form required to be seriously involved. Galvin’s transformation into Gold Cup contender has been a quick one but in managing to rally to get the better of A Plus Tard at Leopardstown he showed all the attributes needed to be successful and this test should suit him even more, with the extended trip bringing his stamina into further play. A sound jumper and east tactical ride, he should be seriously involved here.
Just a head separated him and last year’s second A Plus Tard at Leopardstown and the pair should be seriously close once again. A Plus Tard was a sensational winner of the Betfair Chase before his Leopardstown second and should be thereabouts, although there may well be stronger stayers here – as was the case last year when Minella Indo proved too strong up the hill.
Minella Indo, last year’s winner, has run two fair races either side of his King George blowout (easily forgiven) and we can expect to see him back to his best here. He could be the chief threat to Galvin today.
Al Boum Photo, a dual winner of this race, found that several small mistakes cost him dearly when third behind Minella Indo and A Plus Tard last year. After that connections had hinted at possibly giving him a busier season than last year, but he has taken the usual route of the New Year’s Day chase at Tramore once again. Nevertheless, he shouldn’t be forgotten.
Tornado Flyer sprung a surprise in the King George when given an outstanding ride by Danny Mullins, and he could be getting overlooked again today. This year’s King George was run at a ferocious gallop and whilst that might not be the case in the Gold Cup, that could play into Tornado Flyer’s hands given his form over shorter trip and he didn’t lack for stamina at Kempton.
Royalle Pagille was sixth last year and excels on testing ground, but he’s improved since and ran most creditably when second in the Denman at Newbury. This week’s rain is a blessing, but the drying ground won’t do him any favours.
Asterion Forlonge has an engine as big as any in the field but his jumping continually lets him down and he was slightly disappointing in the Irish Gold Cup last time. Chantry House is a prolific winner who showed a good attitude to beat Santini and Aye Right in the Cotswold Chase, but his form before that hasn’t stood up to scrutiny and others are preferred.
4.10 – St James’s Place 3m2½f (3m2f70y)
Billaway is going to take some beating but he’s been beaten by three of today’s rivals and has also been second in the last two runnings of this race. On balance, he can be taken on. He will get closer to Winged Leader today than at Thurles but Winged Leader is improving by the day and could be value at double the price of the favourite to confirm the form today.
Bob And Co ought not to be far away after a pipe opener at Haydock but Dubai Quest could have a major say here. His impressive win at Wetherby made it seven wins on the spin (five points, two hunter chases) and considering the beatings he’s given to Tango de Juiley and Le Breuil the last twice he must have a decent chance on ratings.
4.50 – Power Mares’ Chase (2m4½f) (2m4f127y)
Elimay hasn’t matched her previous year’s form during this campaign and whilst she should go well, Mount Ida, who won last year’s Kim Muir in extraordinary fashion, beat Elimay at Fairyhouse last time and now gets to meet her on 3lbs better terms, making her the most attractive proposition here for all that Concertista and Zambella deserve serious respect. Vienna Court might not be far away either.
5.30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2m4½f (2m4f56y)
This has been the plot for Langer Dan since last year’s Festival, when he found only Galopin Des champs too strong, having gone through the race like a well handiaped horse despite his Imperial Cup win at Sandown six days earlier. He’s had a tune up to get ready for this and has been generously treated with a 3lbs drop for his warm up at Taunton – all things considered, he’s got a major chance.
The other against the field is Hollow Games, who has finished third in Grade 1 races the last twice after his own Grade 3 win and should have a big chance on that form.
PROFIT/LOSS (MARCH 2022): LOSS -21.23 points
(Excluding ante-post recommendations CLICK HERE)