It’s the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival, with the pinnacle race being the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Neil Morrice previews the final day’s races and provides his best bets for the day. Get your bets on with Hollywoodbets by clicking here!
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day Preview – Day 4
FOR much of this season and especially during the warmest February on record in England the connections of Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup winner NATIVE RIVER could be forgiven for reading the Shakespeare quote ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’ and believing underfoot conditions for the gelding’s repeat bid would be unfavourably quick.
Over a period of weeks the country bathed in heat that could be attributed to a summer, and with it the going became faster and hindered a lot of trainer plans for Festival prep runs.
For Colin Tizzard, he bided his time with NATIVE RIVER in the hope that conditions would turn inclement, and during the past few days his prayers have been answered.
A deluge on Tuesday followed by further rain on Thursday have ensured soft going for the blue riband of steeplechasing, Race 4 on the card and scheduled for a 17.30 South African start time.
Richard Johnson’s mount, not seen since a third placing behind CLAN DES OBEAUX in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, will almost certainly attract sufficient on the day support to go off favourite for the £625,000 contest.
If that occurs, the chestnut will depose PRESENTING PERCY of favouritism, that Irish-trained horse having had an unorthodox preparation for the race with just one (successful) run over hurdles almost two months ago, and a couple of racecourse gallops.
CLAN DES OBEAUX proved that his Kempton triumph was no fluke by following up at Ascot, but he hasn’t done enough just yet to be compared with those Paul Nicholls legends Kauto Star and Denman. However, he should also handle the testing conditions.
MIGHT BITE engaged in a thrilling duel with Native River here 12 months ago but hasn’t looked the same horse in two outings this season, whilst Tizzard’s second acceptor THISTLECRACK needs to raise his game in spite of running creditably in the King George.
The first of three Grade 1 races is the JCB Triumph Hurdle in which SIR EREC will start at cramped odds to make it three wins from three starts over timber for trainer Joseph O’Brien and trainer Mark Walsh.
Sir Erec has looked a natural in his slick jumping and ability to travel powerfully and will take the roof off the stand if providing the Irish with another success in the juvenile championship.
In the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle there’s been a persistent whisper for BIRCHDALE who Nicky Henderson has spoken of in the most complementary manner. The JP McManus-owned five-year-old could have most to fear from stablemate DICKIE DIVER, carrying the legendary gambler’s second colours.
15:30 – Race 1 – Jcb Triumph Hurdle
16:10 – Race 2 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
16:50 – Race 3 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
17:30 – Race 4 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
18:10 – Race 5 – Foxhunter Chase
18:50 – Race 6 – Grand Annual Chase
19:30 – Race 7 – Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle