UK racing looks at Day Four of Cheltenham

With my reputation, the Editor has kindly suggested that I do have one, in complete tatters after the first two days which is not entirely true but it feels that way with the wallet was battered and bruised, the spirits were lifted beyond all expectation on Thursday afternoon on a day of racing that will live on in the memory of many for years and years. 

We did have winners and places but that was not the point this time around – the unbridled emotion on the face of Bryony Frost after she got Frodon home in the Ryanair was a joy to behold and brought a tear to the eyes of both myself and a few thousand others who love this sport. 

Just when you think it cannot get any more emotional Paisley Park wins the Stayers for his wonderful connections and we all started blubbing again. 

If the going is softer tomorrow I blame all the tears, trust me, I was not the only one, but the day did showcase all that is good about the sport we all love, though how I mentioned Lizzie Kelly and Siruh Du Lac without then tipping them is beyond even me. 

Onwards to the final day with a smile on my face, off we go one last time for Cheltenham 2019.  

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle.

If the betting is correct then we can expect to start the day with a winner albeit at a pretty short price. Sir Erec has done nothing wrong since arriving at the Joseph O’Brien stable after a Group Three third on the flat with two wins at Leopardstown and is yet to be seriously tested and could well win this before trying the Champion Hurdle next season. Quel Destin looks to be the Nicholls number one with Harry Cobden riding but I was intrigued to see Pic D’Orhy in the line-up. When we last spoke Paul seemed very keen on the French import but suggested he would be saved for Aintree and the flatter track yet clearly plans have changed and he could run a big race if he handles the track which is very different to those in his native France. Suggestion: Sir Erec to win and Pic D’Orhy each way to small stakes. 

2.10pm County Hurdle.

Where do we even start with a race this complex? The fact that the forecast favourite (Whiskey Sour) is a 6/1 chance shows just how open this is and I will be betting with fun stakes for that very reason. I do like two here each way with Dan Skelton’s Ch’tibello looking as if he has been paid out for this contest and Gordon Elliott’s Éclair De Beaufeu who caught the eye on his handicap debut when fourth at  Leopardstown and has run some decent races recently with wins at Limerick and Fairyhouse. Either could win but either could come last as well, though I am hoping for at least a decent showing form the pair of them. Suggestion: Ch’tibello each-way and Éclair De Beaufeu each-way to small stakes.

2.50pm Albert Bartlett.

You can never be too confident at Cheltenham or any other race meeting without making a fool of yourself but if I had been asked for one bet at the meeting then Birchdale would have been the one. When I was at the Nicky Henderson yard he was name dropped by his trainer more often than the rest and at 6/1 looks a rock solid each way bet to nothing. Unbeaten after two starts over hurdles he could be anything and will do for me, though there are any number of dangers possibly headed by Dinons who has been saved for this race by Gordon Elliott. Suggestion: Birchdale each way and Dinons each way to smaller stakes.

3.30pm Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Every major race so far this week has been a blinder for various reasons and there is no reason to think the Blue Riband over fences will be any different.  Might Bite is in great form at home after a minor wind operation but may find the going a touch too soft for him again this season while last season’s winner Native River may need some overnight rain to aid his chances. Thistlecrack would add to the tear jerking moments we have already seen and isn’t out of this by any means , ditto Bristol De Mai who is in the form of his live and arrives after an uninterrupted preparation this time around. Presenting Percy is hard to go against on the form of his RSA win last year but a decision has to be made and I am on Clan Des Obeaux for Paul Nicholls in the hope that he is improving as fast as his trainer seems to think he is. Suggestion: Clan Des Obeaux to win.

4.10pm Foxhunter Chase.

I can’t pretend I have a strong opinion here because quite frankly I am at a loss. Looking though past trends only removed horses I hadn’t considered anyway. All I can go on is those in the saddle and David Maxwell has been having a very good season, he could well steer Shantou Flyer in to a place at the very least and that is the one and only play I will be having here. Suggestion: Shantou Flyer each-way.

4.50pm Grand Annual Challenge Cup.

Once again I find myself relying on the big guns in the training ranks here with my personal fancy Magic Saint trained by Paul Nicholls, and my alternative of Whatswrongwithyou in the care of Nicky Henderson ,who always wants to win the race named after his father. Both have solid chances but neither can be seen as a good thing, though I do get the feeling that the first named is likely to make up in to far better than a handicapper and if that is the case he should win here. Suggestion: Magic Saint to win,  Whatswrongwithyou each-way to small stakes.

5.30pm Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.

A horror to end the card and one where I have gone all “statistical” on you, running through the trends of the last twenty years or so seeing if anything fits a pattern (if only life was that easy). Taking in to account age price position last time out star sign (thsts a joke) and various other factors I have a shortlisrt of four left and I am going to go all silly and have a few tricast bets – just in case. The horses I came down to are Defi Bleu who I will also back in an each-way single, as well as Pym, Daybreak Boy and Garo De Juilley though nothing would surprise me as they flash past the post. Suggestion: Defi Bleu each-way, Defi Bleu, Pym, Daybreak Boy, and Garo De Juilley in tricasts to pennies.


Bryony Frost and Frodon, picture Cheltenham Racecourse