Cheltenham Festival: day four
Frank Monkhouse | 17 March 2017
Ace plays for Gold Cup day
Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham Festival and the highlight of what has already been an enthralling week. It also rates as our last chance to break the code and win big. If you are going to hit the jackpot at Cheltenham, Friday’s as good a day as any.
Punters enjoyed a fantastic outing on Thursday, with Mullins and Walsh backers making a mint. Click here to place all your bets on Friday, or read on as we layout our top pick from each of the day’s seven contests.
Let’s get off to a flyer, and Charli Parcs is taken to do just that. The Nicky Henderson trained three-year-old was popular in the antepost betting for this race, but fell last time out around Kempton in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. He looked to have every chance of winning the race when coming down, but I am more than happy to forgive him that and take more from his two career wins. Passed a good test at Kempton over the festive period, and traders look to have been a tad harsh at 10/3.
Alan King’s Winter Escape badly let backers down last time when finishing near the back of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November. He went off a well-backed 3/1 that day, but just wasn’t at the races, with only Hargam behind in the finishing order. Once again I am in a forgiving mood and will give him another chance. That misfire remains the only blot on his copybook, winning his other three starts, including the grade two Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton. Our 12/1 makes him easy to try.
Albert Bartlett Hurdle
The World’s End may not leap off the page at you as the obvious pick here, but I rate him better than the 8/1 being handed out by Coral at present. He doesn’t bring the best form of the pack, but has been doing what’s needed and beating what has been put in front of him, winning four of five, including each of his last three. Victory in the grade two Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices Hurdle at Haydock last time boosted his stock, and he’s getting better with every race.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
OK, it’s time for the talking to stop and to back your opinions with cold, hard cash. A good case could be made for a lot of these, but I am letting my heart rule my head and taking Cue Card. Winning a Gold Cup would be nothing short of romantic, and he’s sure to attract plenty of interest on the day. He looked the winner of this race last year when coming down three from home, and the team have unfinished business with the Gold Cup. We’ll never know if he would’ve won last year, but we’ll find out if he can do it this time. I think he can, at 5/1.
Jockey Will Biddick takes the ride of Ask The Weatherman, and that is a major plus point for me here. He didn’t put a foot wrong when winning the Stewart Tory Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase, beating home Rebel Rebellion by six-lengths, as was expected when going off as SP 4/9 jolly. Oozed class that day, and on that showing he will be involved when it matters at 13/2.
Martin Pipe Hurdle
No Comment goes as 6/1 favourite, and that is understandable as he arrives with the best form of the field. Has won each of his last three, but a score at Plumpton in January was the most impressive, beating Harry Fry’s short-priced favourite Minella Awards in convincing fashion. It’ll pay to keep this one simple.
Grand Annual Chase
Let’s go out in style! Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies join forces on the selection Le Prezien and that will be a winning partnership, if my thinking is correct. Goes for an in-form yard, especially in this race, and Le Prezien won at this track late last year in the Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase. He goes into handicap company for the first time, and looks to have been given every chance at 5/1.