Thursday, March 17, 2022

Cheltenham 2022 - Friday

Henry Daly thinks Hillcrest is probably the best he has trained and I'd love to see the horse win the Albert Bartlett (2.50) tomorrow but down the years the Albert Bartlett has served up more shocks than a sack of soggy spuds. 

Only one favourite has obliged in the past decade (At Fishers Cross in 2013); the only other winner returned at a single figure price was Monkfish in 2020. 

3.30 Gold Cup

In last year's Gold Cup Minella Indo beat stablemate A Plus Tard one and a quarter lengths with Al Boum Photo third, Royal Pagaille sixth and Santini pulled up. 

The champion returns to defend his crown after an up and down season. 

Rachael Blackmore took on Bryony Frost and Frodon from the lead in the King George; Danny Mullins and Tornado Flyer rode a waiting race and then came from behind to pick up the spoils. 

Minella Indo's second behind Conflated in the Irish Gold Cup last time was a far better performance and an encouraging trial.

A Plus Tard was most impressive in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. 

Although the going was officially described as good to soft that day, it was quite quick for the time of year. The race fell apart a little with Bristol De Mai unable to handle underfoot conditions, Imperial Aura falling and Waiting Patiently being pulled up but, that said, A Plus Tard sauntered to a 22 length victory over Royal Pagaille.

Next time A Plus Tard was pipped a short head by Galvin in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. 

It's worth noting that De Bromhead's yard was going through a quiet spell at the time; on official ratings A Plus Tard has four pounds in hand over Galvin.

Galvin won the National Hunt Challenge Cup over three miles six at the 2021 Festival and, obviously, is a stout stayer.

Al Boum Photo was sent off favourite for last year's Gold Cup; although finishing third, connections were a little disappointed with the run. He sports cheekpieces for the first time tomorrow - the last 10-year-old to come home in front was Cool Dawn in 1998.

The British challenge is headed by Protektorat who beat Native River 25 lengths in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on only his second try at a trip beyond two miles five furlongs. 

His very best form has been on soft ground so Wednesday's downpour will certainly have helped the cause but at the end of  ITV's coverage today Luke Harvey reported the ground drying out quickly.

Royal Pagaille is another who wouldn't be suited by drying ground.

Three weeks after winning the Marsh Novices' Chase at last year's Festival Chantry House went to Aintree and slammed Shan Blue 32 lengths in the Mildmay. 

Nicky Henderson's charge didn't look overly keen in the King George. Wearing cheekpieces next time he beat Santini and Aye Right in the Cotswold Chase but it looked jolly hard work on tiring ground and he finished very tired.

Has Polly Grundy managed to rekindle the fire in Santini? 

Based near Ottery St Mary in Devon, the handler says her charge is 'as good as I can have him'; he is over 15 kilos lighter than when he ran in the Cotswold Chase. 

Powering up the hill, Santini was beaten a neck by Al Boum Photo in the 2020 renewal - another couple of strides and he would have won. He was rated 171 that day; his current rating is 153.

Asterion Forlonge is a talented individual but he has yet to win beyond two miles five and his jumping is a cause for concern. 

Aye Right is an old favourite who jumps well and likes to race with the pace but this is a big ask.

Galvin is my idea of the winner.

Selection: Galvin win (7/2 in places). 

5.30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Finally, I just can't resist a longshot in the finale. 

Langer Dan was second behind Galopin Des Champs in this race last year and races off a mark just two pounds higher tomorrow. 

This has been the target all season; the stable certainly know the time of day having won the County Hurdle with Superb Story (2016), Mohaayed (2018) and Ch'tibello (2019).

I like the Lanzarote form. 

Cobblers Dream won five and a half lengths that day on only his second start in a handicap and he has been raised eight pounds. 

I saw Ben Case's charge, a £85,000 purchase, on his debut in this country at Warwick and he certainly caught the eye.

Quinta Do Mar was in the process of running a big race in the Lanzarote and, four lengths down, looked booked for third when coming to grief at the final flight. 

In a Weekender stable tour [01-05.12.21] handler Ben Pauling said:

"There has been marked improvement this season and his two wins from as many runs, which were both impressive performances, have seen him shoot up 16lb to 137. He is still on a fair mark and will be saved for the Lanzarote Hurdle over the new year. I'd expect him to take some beating in that."

The handicapper dropped Quinta Do Mar two pounds after the run in the Lanzarote. 

The yard has been been through a quiet spell of late but Global Citizen won the Grand Annual yesterday and stablemate Anightinlambourn won at Huntingdon. 

Selection: Quinta Do Mar each way (40/1 generally with several layers paying six places).


TW said...

Day 3 provided a cracking Stayer’s hurdle but the win I enjoyed most was Coole Cody...what a fella!

Going at the start of Day 4 is Good to Soft, Soft in places.

The form of Porticello’s wins may not be working out fantastically but he’s been doing it easily enough and can make one of the four places B365 are offering at 16/1. I’m siding with a couple of more exposed types in the County Hurdle, relying heavily on the Morebattle Hurdle form, which looked a hot renewal, and splitting my stakes between Cormier [33/1 7 places] and Faivoir [66/1 7 places]. Cormier would win a £100,000 bonus for winning the Morebattle and this race if he were to prevail.

Hillcrest scores well in the Albert Bartlett on the system and was only overlooked because of his short odds. The system whittled down potential value to Bardenstown Lad [20/1], Ballygrifincottage [33/1] and Green Book [66/1], I may play all 3 to small stakes.

Al Boum Photo’s age will have crossed him off most Gold Cup short lists, but he’s lightly raced, has cheek pieces on for the first time, is clear 2nd top rated on my ratings [2lb behind A Plus Tard], I’d be disappointed if he did not make the first four and delighted if he managed a hat trick of Gold Cups [12/1 4 places].

I’ve skipped the Foxhunters, though I watch the ex Mullins horse Pont Aven with interest, and cannot see an angle in the mares race.

Quinta Do Mar scored really well on my system and was on the short-list, I’m just a bit concerned that the system is over exaggerating his easy win at Fontwell. I ended up focusing on the Lanzarote winner Cobblers Dream and the Irish runner Bainbridge and opted for CD at 16/1 6 places to close my festival betting.

Thanks for taking the time to post each day, always an enjoyable read.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your thoughts and selections, TW.

Trust Third Wind's win yesterday ensures you return a profit over the four days - the stewards seemed to take an age to agree the placings remain unaltered!

Good luck!

GeeDee said...


Banbridge and Cobblers Dream finish first and second respectively in the finale.

Tell me you did the forecast!

TW said...

Alas not........


GeeDee said...

In the Gold Cup there was a sense of deja vu in the air as Minella Indo (7/1) kicked on off the home turn with A Plus Tard (3/1f) his nearest pursuer.

This year though the placings were reversed as A Plus Tard (3/1f) jumped the last at speed and then displayed an exceptional turn of foot to leave his stablemate floundering some 15 lengths in arrears.

In a stop-start, tactically run affair selection Galvin (100/30) was badly outpaced from three out. Racing wide he made some ground up the hill to finish a modest fourth, a short-head behind Protektorak (10/1) but there was only one horse in this year's Gold Cup - and he was ridden by Rachael Blackmore.

Quinta Do Mar (40/1) finished twelfth in the concluding Martin Pipe but that wouldn't necessarily tell the whole story.

Racing prominently he was hampered by a loose horse three out but still held every chance at the penultimate flight before fading out of contention.

Banbridge (12/1) and Cobblers Dream (12/1) fought out the finish, the former prevailing by one and a half lengths.