2m1f (2m179y) (New) JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo)
I’m a huge advocate of backing front runners at Cheltenham, particularly on the New Course, and ALLMANKIND is guaranteed to make the pace in this classy renewal of the Triumph Hurdle. His jumping is solid and he seems to stay two miles at his own crazy pace with something to spare at the end of his races, and he’ll be exceptionally difficult to peg back for both the horses and jockeys in opposition. I’ll be surprised if one gets past him, let alone four, so 5/1 with five places each-way to break even your bet should that happen seems insurance worth paying.
1pt each-way Allmankind @5/1, 13:30 Cheltenham, Friday
3m (2m7f213y) (New) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (Class 1)(4yo+)
Defi Du Seuil and Sporting John both bombed this week so I’m steering clear of the Hobbs yard and their Thyme Hill. SEMPO wasn’t far behind the top-class trio of Abacadabras, Envoi Allen and Thyme Hill in last year’s Champion Bumper and I thought he improved loads when switched to front running tactics over hurdles last time out. He has shaped like he wants three miles so far and looks a very live 12/1 shot in an open Albert Bartlett. Decent ground seems to be what he wants, and he should get that.
1pt win Sempo @12/1, 14:50 Cheltenham, Friday
3m2½f (3m2f70y) (New) Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)
I’m not totally convinced by the form of Al Boum Photo’s Gold Cup win last year. Anibale Fly and Bristol De Mai placing suggests it wasn’t the best renewal of the race, and the winner got beaten next time out at Punchestown by Kemboy. On the flip side, he did fairly bolt up and has had an identical prep this time so is a deserving favourite. I’d give Kemboy a good chance of confirming the form of his Punchestown Gold Cup win if he gets a clear round – which is a big if given his tendency to jump right – because the ground is drying out and we know he has a huge performance in him. However, he has twice been beaten fair and square by Delta Work this season, and, on the whole, last year’s novices seem to have the upper hand against their seniors with Lostintranslation also bagging the Betfair Chase and Santini the Cotswold Chase. My issue with Delta Work is the awful record of Irish Gold Cup winners in this race, and the gruelling nature of this year’s renewal might continue the trend. A good prep is a huge advantage for a Gold Cup and immediately after last year’s renewal I thought CLAN DES OBEAUX – who was only a seven-year-old at the time – had left his race at Ascot in the rescheduled Denman Chase, where he laughed at the 159 rated Terrefort in the same way he had travelled all over the King George field that Christmas. He is a quite brilliant jumper and I’m certain that he’s a better horse on better ground, so I’ve been itching to give him another go in the Gold Cup if afforded his conditions and a better prep. He looks to have improved this season and landed a second King George in devastating fashion at Christmas – albeit beating non-stayers – and Paul Nicholls seems to have worked out the key to this horse: getting him hard fit and fresh. There is doubt about him staying the Gold Cup trip and handling left-handed tracks like Cheltenham, but almost all horses need their optimum preps and conditions to win a Gold Cup, and the absence of the aggressive front-runner Native River in this year’s race will slow things down and the better going is a big plus for Clan Des Obeaux’s chances of staying. If he does bring his best form to Cheltenham, I think he is the best horse in this race and you’re getting 8/1. I think that’s a right good bet.
1pt win Clan Des Obeaux @8/1, 15:30 Cheltenham, FridayLeave a comment