Neil Morrice brings you all of his best bets and tips for day four of the Cheltenham Festival as well as Dundalk and Southwell.
Check out Neil’s Day 4 preview
Race 1 JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE (Grade 1)
Trainer: Alan King – Jockey: Adrian Heskin
The smallest Triumph field for many a year gives TRITONIC the opportunity to give the Brits a much needed boost in the Gold Cup day opener. There’s been a professional element to the way the Sea The Moon gelding has delivered at Ascot and Kempton, with that latest Adonis Hurdle triumph stamping him as something out of the ordinary. The three other unbeaten candidates in the race are Irish-trained and Quilixios could prove the best on debut for Denise Foster. A winner on debut in France, he’s landed the odds in three subsequent outings by an aggregate of almost 40 lengths and represents a team that landed Wednesday’s Bumper. Zanahir is similarly making his debut for the Foster stable but his last two victories have been let down by the efforts of Busselton, and to a certain extent Smart Sam earlier in the week.
Race 2 McCOY CONTRACTORS COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE (Grade 3)
No20 GOWEL ROAD (Each Way)
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies – Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Of all the bets in handicaps this week GOWEL ROAD is one I’m greatly looking forward to. For all that this is a wickedly competitive heat, the five-year-old has shown qualities that should equip him for a big earning run. He overcame greenness to open his account on handicap debut at Newbury and duly followed-up back in novice company on a return to that course, storming clear of the useful Good Ball. His trainer, alert to the fact that he is still a little wayward at his hurdles, has equipped him with first time cheek pieces. Also earmarked for at least a minor cheque is Edwardstone, who is going to love the make and shape of this and should repeat his Betfair Hurdle running, when third to Soaring Glory. That form took a minor knock with the winner’s effort in the Supreme Hurdle, but I still fancy Edwardstone to get into the money. You Raised Me Up could prove the pick of the Irish contingent for trainer Martin Brassil. As a son of Presenting he should relish the drying conditions, and goes to post with his tail up after successes at Listowel and Naas. The Skeltons have a habit of getting into the news in big handicap hurdles which suggests it would be folly to leave Third Time Lucki out of your exotics.
Race 3 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)
No16 TORYGRAPH (Each Way)
Trainer: Denise Foster – Jockey: Jack Kennedy
I doubt there’s a Monkfish amongst the 17 runners for the longest novice hurdle run at the Festival but TORYGRAPH is the type of upwardly mobile individual to have a big say at the business end. He’s landed some good bets in scoring at Fairyhouse and Thurles and is a proven stayer who should adapt to faster conditions than he’s used to. Stablemate Fakiera has to be afforded respect even though beaten the last twice, as he’s been mixing it with the best of them. Stattler comes out as pretty much the same horse and should get into the money for Willie Mullins, while Adrimel rates the pick of the British contingent on form, as he defends a three-race unbeaten record over hurdles. His stable has been quiet leading into this, and at a bigger price The Cob could find his way into the money after fairly bolting up for Ben Pauling at Doncaster.
Race 4 WELLCHILD CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP CHASE (Grade 1)
No12 SANTINI (Each Way)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Aidan Coleman
The biggest story of the week – even bigger than Tiger Roll’s fifth Festival success on Wednesday – would come if Al Boum Photo joins Arkle and Best Mate in the select group to win three Gold Cups. He appears to have enjoyed the perfect preparation and is a deserving favourite. Ireland have a powerful back up in A Plus Tard and Kemboy, with the former bidding to repeat his Irish Gold Cup defeat of the latter for the de Bromhead/Blackmore combo. Royal Pagaille sauntered home at Haydock but is out of handicap company and straight into a Grade 1 on ground that is going to be quicker than ideal. Lostintranslation came off a long break to finish an excellent third in this last year, but after three heavy defeats has a mountain to climb. His stablemate Native River is a grinder that aside from winning this has placed in two other attempts. He will try to serve it up from the front but will find a pack of wolves baying for his blood on this better ground, making him the proverbial sitting duck. Frodon was allowed to do things in his own time which casts a shadow over the strength of his King George VI Chase form. That leaves us with the Henderson duo of SANTINI and Champ. Named after Tony McCoy, Champ is very much the joker in the pack and could win if he puts it all together off just one outing all season. While greatly respecting his claims, that if too big an ‘if’ for me and the vote goes to Santini. He came within an ace of landing last season’s Gold Cup and things haven’t gone right for him this season. He’s encountered three defeats but has a record at this course that makes him of serious interest. His Cheltenham form reads 13-212 and he’s a much better horse at this time of year. At around 10-1 Santini appeals as a cracking each way alternative to Al Boum Photo.
Race 5 ST JAMES’S PLACE FESTIVAL CHALLENGE CUP OPEN HUNTERS’ CHASE
No2 BOB AND CO
Trainer: Paul Nicholls – Jockey: Sean Bowen
It’s disappointing that amateurs are barred from riding at this year’s Festival, with their own Gold Cup not in any way the same in its admittedly temporary form as an all-professional contest. The 2019 winner Hazel Hill seeks to turn back the clock but is not as good as he was. Salvatore carries high hopes at a huge price for the Brits, as does Chameron who has greatly benefitted from a wind op. For Ireland Billaway will be all the rage and looks destined to start favourite, while It Came To Pass is a darker candidate that needs to be taken seriously. Taking my vote for a top operation is the former French-trainer BOB AND CO. He moved from that country’s champion jumps trainer to one of our own and has thrived with successes at Bangor, Fontwell and Haydock, the last time in domineering fashion following wind surgery. On that evidence, the ten-year-old is going to put in a big run for sporting owner David Maxwell, who in normal circumstances would have also partnered him.
Race 6 MRS PADDY POWER MARES’ CHASE (Grade 2)
Trainer: Willie Mullins – Jockey: Paul Townend
The newly installed mares’ chase will surely give Ireland yet another reason to be cheerful, with COOLREEVY the choice to fend off compatriots Elimay and Magic Of Light. The selection has in three outings over fences displayed the ability to score by wide margins and also to fight for the spoils. She’s been well backed for each win, whilst experiencing different courses that give her scope to adapt to the Cheltenham undulations. Elimay has the clear beating of Shattered Love on their running at Naas last month and was in no way disgraced when failing to hold Allaho on chase debut at Thurles. Magic Of Light has mixed hurdling with chasing over the past four years and is therefore vastly more experienced than her foes. Some would argue that aged 10 she might be past her peak, but a recent win at Newbury and second to the smart Roksana over hurdles at Ascot indicates that is not the case.
Race 7 MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE
No22 LANGER DAN (Each Way)
Trainer: Dan Skelton – Jockey: Lorcan Williams
The Skeltons can bag a £50,000 bonus by saddling LANGER DAN to add this to his imperious Imperial Cup triumph at Sandown last weekend. It wasn’t the most competitive renewals of that race, but the Ocovango gelding made it look very one sided as he effortlessly stretched clear up the final hill. In my mind’s eye I can envisage Harry Skelton hanging onto Langer Dan as long as he dare before giving him the office to go about his business on what is a similarly stiff run to the line here. Interesting on a switch back to hurdles is the Nicky Henderson-trained Mill Green, who is well handicapped on his run when just out of the money in the corresponding race 12 months ago. David Pipe’s First Lord De Cuet can look after himself and threatens to add to his creditable streak of consistency, while if there’s a joker in the pack it could prove to be Amour De Nuit, even though he doesn’t always find as much as expected off the bridle.
Race 1 No7 POET’S PRIDE
Trainer: David Marnane – Jockey: Billy Lee
POET’S PRIDE is in a good spot to try to dominate in the opening sprint handicap. He has a good draw, and showed with an earning effort dropped back to the minimum trip last time that he’s on the cusp of a return to the winners’ circle.
Race 3 No5 DAMMIT
Trainer: Luke Comer – Jockey: Gary Halpin
The unexposed DAMMIT can prove the joker in the pack on handicap debut. The Bashkirov colt showed ability when switching to this surface over course and distance to trouble the judge in the race won by Eagle’s Flight. He’s the one with most scope for improvement and support for him would add confidence.
Race 7 No5 JUNGLE COVE
Trainer: Jessica Harrington – Jockey: Shane Foley
It might have taken JUNGLE COVE a long time to put his head in front, but with the benefit of that confidence-boosting experience the floodgates can now open. The gelding had placed on five other Polytrack outings and looks guaranteed to put in another solid effort.
Race 2 No5 MISTER FREEZE
Trainer: Patrick Chamings – Jockey: Liam Keniry
MISTER FREEZE deserves a change of luck after finishing in the frame in each of his last four starts. His three career successes have happened on the deep Fibresand surface, and he’s well overdue a return the the winners’ enclosure.
Race 4 No2 MARVEL (Nap)
Trainer: Julie Camacho – Jockey: Josh Quinn
MARVEL has finished second on seven of his 11 career starts and often flatters to deceive. He was denied by only a neck against Wrath Of Hector at this course on return from a six month absence, a run that should have fine tuned him.
Place Accumulater Perm (Races 1-7)
1 x 5, 6 x 4, 6 x 2 x 1, 5 x 2, 6, 1 x 4