By Declan Meagher
Declan Meagher is the author of the website learnbetwin. For more visitlearnbetwin.com. Day 1 tips on RTE.ie included 4/1 and 16/1 winners.
1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle
The Triumph Hurdle opens the card on the last day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Ivanovich Gorbatov has headed the market for this since winning his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. He flopped last time in a grade one back at Leopardstown, and the punters backing him are hanging their hat on him being much better on better ground. He may well be, but his price looks far too short.
Zubayr is challenging him for favouritism, and he did well to win on his UK debut last time, despite running quite green. Of that pair I’d prefer Zubayr, but neither offer much value in my view.
I was really impressed with Clan Des Obeaux on his first start for Paul Nichols, when after travelling really well, he sprinted clear at Newbury for a very impressive win. The second may not have liked the ground, but he did the form no harm by hacking up next time.
Clan Des Obeaux got beaten next time at Cheltenham but he got into a battle a long way out with another horse, and despite still travelling well on the approach to the last, he had nothing left on the run in to repel the challenge of Protek Des Flos. I think he can do much better, and while he needs to prove himself on the ground, there is no real reason he won’t go on it.
Lets Dance was beaten by Ivanovich Gorbatov on her debut for Willie Mullins, but she finished seven lengths ahead of him when third in a grade one on her next start. She travelled like the best horse that day though, and seemed to pay late for getting into a duel with Jer’s Girl from a good way out. That was still good progress from her first start, and if she progresses again she should be bang there.
Like Clan Des Obeaux she needs to prove herself on the better ground, but there must be every chance she’ll be fine on it. I think it’s worth backing Lets Dance at 14/1 and Clan Des Obeaux at 16/1. The place terms aren’t in favour of the punter here, so back both win only.
Tips: Clan Des Obeaux 16/1, Lets Dance 14/1
2.10 County Hurdle
The County Hurdle is normally one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the year, and this year’s race is no exception.
Great Field bolted up on his debut for Willie Mullins recently and looks to have been given a fair mark for his handicap debut.
He had just three starts in France before joining the yard, winning twice, and while he has little experience for a race like this, he has massive scope to improve.
Some Plan was a decent novice for Tom George last season, and after not living up to market expectations on his first start for Paul Nichols, he showed improved form last time to come fourth in the Ladbroke at Ascot.
He was held up in a really well run race, but made good progress to get into a challenging position in the straight before a mistake at the second last halted his momentum. He weakened slightly on the run in but it was still a commendable effort and given it was just his second start in a handicap he can do better.
Cardinal Walter was a decent novice hurdler last season and didn’t make his seasonal bow this season until early February.
He travelled really well, if a little free, at Musselburgh and after making good ground in the straight to get into a challenging position he faded slightly after the last.
It was a very good effort though, the run was probably needed and a strong pace, big field scenario should really suit him. That was his first handicap so he can only improve. Some Plan is currently 25/1, and Cardinal Walter is 28/1. Both are cracking each way bets at those prices.
Tips: Some Plan e/w 25/1, Cardinal Walter e/w 28/1
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle is run over three miles, and the unbeaten Barters Hill heads the market.
He won four bumpers before going over hurdles this season, and in his first two hurdle wins over around two and a half miles he looked sure to improve for the step up to three miles.
He duly won when moving up in trip last time but made a meal of it, although in mitigation he got into a battle with Up For Review from a long way out and he probably did well to battle on for the victory. I just wonder with his grinding style if he isn’t better with a bit of cut, and he may get done for speed here.
Shantou Village won his first two hurdle starts, the second of those in a Grade Two at Cheltenham, and while he proved no match for Yanworth back there last time he still put up a respectable effort in second.
In coming off the bridle before a few others before staying on well he suggested the extra trip in this could be a plus and I think he’ll likely improve for this better ground too. All told he looks to have a great chance. He has shortened a bit today, but at 9/2 Shantou Village still looks a good win only bet.
Tip: Shantou Village 9/2
3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Barry McEneaney previews the Gold Cup here.
4.10 Foxhunter Chase
The Foxhunter Chase will get much more publicity this year due to the participation of Victoria Pendleton, and her mount Pacha Du Polder actually has a good chance on form. The question marks are her inexperience and the trip might be a little past his best.
On The Fringe was an impressive winner of this last year, but he ran poorly on his recent seasonal debut at Leopardstown and I think Paint The Clouds might be able to improve on his third place finish in this last season.
He ran a cracker in the Bet 365 Gold Cup at Sandown after that run, and showed he was on good terms with himself with a recent win at Doncaster. The ground went against him a bit last year, but it should be perfect tomorrow, and at 13/2 he looks a pretty good bet.
Tip: Paint The Clouds 13/2
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap
The Martin Pipe handicap hurdle is generally one of the weaker handicaps at the festival but in Squouateur we have a horse that looks well handicapped on what he has already done, and has the potential to do an awful lot better.
He won off a mark of 120 on his handicap debut before following up with a cosy victory at Fairyhouse off 128. He runs off 141 tomorrow, but Irish ratings are on a lower scale than their UK counterparts.
When you consider the third horse home at Fairyhouse that day, Mall Dini, won the Pertemps today off a mark seven pound higher than he ran off that day then his mark starts to look very attractive indeed and the current 4/1 still looks too big.
Tip: Squouateur 4/1
5.30 Grand Annual Chase
The final race of the 2016 festival is the Grand Annual and with the current favourite at 10/1, it’s not an easy getting out stakes.
I think the most likely winner is Velvet Maker,and at the current prices he also looks the best bet.
He’s only had three runs over fences and his last two runs were in grade ones against Douvan when he acquitted himself as well as could be expected.
The run I fancy him on was his chasing debut when he bolted up by eleven lengths from Dysios, who has since won off an Irish mark of 126 which makes the 143 Velvet Maker is rated tomorrow look very fair. At the current 12/1 he looks a reasonable each way bet.
Tip: Velvet Maker 11/1