Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cheltenham Festival - Friday

The Gold Cup, due off at 3.30 on the revised nine race card, is the highlight of the week. For what seems the majority of the season, this race has been built up into a showdown between the two Paul Nicholls' trained runners Kauto Star and Denman. I'm firmly in the Kauto Star camp, but it has the look of a race to savour rather than one to bet on. If I get involved I'll have a small each-way interest in Exotic Dancer, currently 14/1 with Corals. For those who haven't come across Harry Findlay, co-owner of Denman - should his horse win, you'll wonder how you'd never heard of him before.

Nineteen go to post at 2.50 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. The main chances appear to be Carruthers, owned by Lord Oaksey, Gone To Lunch, The Tother One and Lodge Lane. It's questionable whether Lodge Lane will stay while The Tother One has won over two miles six and looks as though he definitely will. Carruthers was impressive when slamming Souffleur amongst others over two miles five at Warwick; he was allowed a soft lead that day in desperate conditions and it subsequently came to light that Souffleur coughed after the race. Gone To Lunch's third in the Cleeve behind Inglis Drever and Blazing Bailey reads well; on official handicap ratings he's the top horse here and so Gone To Lunch gets the vote.

Labelthou is the top rated horse in the opener; this game mare excels in testing conditions but I don't think she'll get her ground here. Of the others I fancy Nicky Henderson's Chomba Womba over Sweet Kiln and Theatre Girl.

Franchoek looks the one to beat in the Triumph but his price offers no value whatsoever in what is traditionally a rough race. Franchoek's trainer, Alan King, won this last year with Katchit, who won the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, so connections obviously know what's required.

Earlier in the week I tipped Forpadydeplasterer to take the Ballymore Novices' (1.05). This horse needs some cut - I wouldn't want to see the going changed to good before the running of this race. Nicky Henderson's Aigle D'Or looked rather green when beating Hold Em three and a bit lengths; Aigle D'Or is priced amongst the favourites whilst Hold Em is as big as 28/1 in some lists. This horse had a hard race last time out but is as tough as old boots - I may take a small each-way interest.

Finally, as I said earlier in the week, the Coral Cup is a minefield - Mendo is the each-way selection for those who crave a wager.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

In the Gold Cup, Denman won one of the most eagerly awaited clashes in recent years with a powerhouse display on holding ground, beating stablemate Kauto Star (10/11f) seven lengths. Exotic Dancer (17/2) was never really on terms and finshed a well beaten fifth.
Gone To Lunch (13/2) didn't feature much in the race commentary but stayed on strongly to take fifth. The Tother One would have won this but for running around wildly between the final two flights.
100/30 favourtie Chomba Womba was beaten two and a half lengths in third behind Whiteoak and Refinement.
Front running tactics served Celestial Halo (5/1) well in the Triumph and he easily held even money favourtie Franchoek on the line.
Forpadydeplasterer took a walk in the market, starting at 13/2. Davy Russell gave the horse every chance but he looked one paced coming to the last, finishing a creditable fourth. Hold Em was backed in from 33/1 to 18/1 and race prominently until the top of the hill but faded into ninth.
Mendo (14/1) stayed on to take fourth in the Coral Cup.