Cheltenham Festival 2021: Day 4 Preview – Friday

It's the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and there's still time to pick a winner with our top tipster who has crunched the numbers ahead of Friday's seven races.

Stefan Fellows

The fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival is headlined by one of the most prestigious contests in National Hunt racing – the Gold Cup.

Dual winner Al Boum Photo is likely to go off favourite as he bids to emulate the likes of Arkle and Best Mate by winning a third consecutive Gold Cup.

Meanwhile, given Willie Mullins’ record in other Mares races at the festival, it’s no surprise to see his representatives dominating the market in the inaugural running of the Mares’ Chase at 4.15.

13.20 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Key Profile

  • A victory last time out preferably in a Graded event, 21 of the last 27 winners lto
  • Raced in the last 50 days
  • Sire to be a Grade 1 winner
  • Prominent market position. 11 of the last 16 front 4 in the betting.

Key Races

  • Spring, Finesse, or Adonis Hurdles 9 of the last 11 winners last time ran in one of the

Key Trainers

  • Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliot have both taken 2 of the last 7 renewals

Leading Fancies

Zanahiyr and Quilixios look to head a strong Irish challenge this season race both are unbeaten with very little between them on official ratings.

Zanahiyr won the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting while Quilixios won the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, both of which are key trials for this race in the past.

Both have rock solid profiles for me and I think overall there is very little between the Irish pair so I`m happy to play with the bigger priced Quilixios.

The best of the home juveniles looks to be the Alan King trained Tritonic he was a 99 rated flat horse who finished 2nd at Royal Ascot last year. He’s unbeaten in 2 starts over hurdles including when a good winner of the Adonis at Kempton last time.

I think he has the raw ability to go close and we know his trainer is one of the best with these types on the flat however the concern for me is at this top-level I think he would be better suited to softer ground.

We know very little about the other Willie Mullins runner in the line-up Haut En Couleurs. He won a newcomer’s race at Auteuil on his only start to date, so it’s an interesting move by connections to run start him out here and the market vibes seem positive. He is the unknown in the race and makes some each appeal.

Selection: Quilixios

Each Way: Haut En Couleurs

13.55 County Handicap Hurdle

Cheltenham Festival Horse

Key Profile

  • Novice or second season hurdler, 16 of the last 18
  • Experience in a high-class handicap
  • Rated between 132 – 139. 12 of the last 14
  • Not a winner last time out

Key Races

  • 2-mile early February handicaps at Newbury or Leopardstown.

Key Trainers

  • A race that Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins (5) and Dan Skelton have an excellent record in, with the latter winning 3 of the last 5.

Leading Fancies

The Ladbrokes handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival in which Drop The Anchor, Champagne Gold, Saint D`Oroux filled the first 3 places looks the key piece of form here.

The front 2 should be open to more improvement especially the lightly raced Champagne Gold. However marginal preference on these revised terms is for Saint D`Oroux, he ran a good race to finish third in last years juvenile handicap and fits the profile of past winners nicely.

His stablemate Cayd Boy is another who I can see running well. Owner JP Mc Manus looks to have his usual strong hand in this and this gelding could well turn out to be the pick of his runners.

He had some strong form as a novice against decent animals and has since progressed well to finish 1st and 2nd on his 2 handicap starts. He has not been seen for 110 days and looks to have been saved for this race an approach which has found the last 5 winners.

Of the home runners Edwardstone, Third Time Lucki and Thyme White all look to have claims but I would be surprised if this is another handicap prove which doesn’t go back across the Irish sea.

Selection: Cayd Boy

Each Way: Saint D`oroux

14.30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle)

Key Stats

  • Graded form, 12 of the 16 had been 1st or 2nd last time out in Graded Class
  • 6 or 7 years old. 13 of the last 15
  • Starting career in a Point to Point. 6 of the last 9 winners

Key Trainers

  • That man again. Willie Mullins has won 3 of the last 6 renewals

Leading Fancies

Again, the Irish challenge looks a strong one here with Statler and Fakiera looking set to fight out favouritism. There was very little between the pair when they finished 2nd and 4th behind Gailard Du Mesnil at the Dublin Racing Festival with Statler coming out on ahead that day.

The latter though on this occasion can be fancied to turn that form around. He came from an unfavourable position that day being held up before making some strong late progress. The way he finished his race that day suggested this trip will be fine and I do not expect the ground to be an issue for this nice moving type.

This looks the strongest of the home challenge for me in the novice hurdle races and with 2 or 3 graded winners in the line-up. Adrimel finished out the back in last season champion bumper but has since taken well to hurdles this season and remains unbeaten.

The Tom Lacey runner showed more improvement last time when outstaying his rivals in desperate conditions at Warwick. He has important graded form which is a positive for me and looks to have a nice way of doing things, however, they did finish in a bunch that day, he will find this tougher from the front and maybe better suited to softer conditions.

The Cob stepped up to 3 miles for a Grade 2 at Doncaster for the first time and was a convincing winner who looked to have the race well in command from a fair way out.

Ben Pauling knows how to train a Festival winner and this one has had plenty of experience over hurdles with 6 starts yet looks to still have some potential over this type of trip.

Despite his form to date coming on soft ground, I don’t see the ground being an issue and he’s the one from the English form lines I’d be favouring towards, Alaphilippe was a comfortable winner of the Grade 2 trial for this at Haydock last time and reproduction of that effort should see him involved.

The issue for me is again that was run in desperate conditions just 27 days ago and winners from that race have rarely shown that level again next time here.

Barbados Bucks is a progressive and highly regarded type for the Paul Nicholls he should have more to offer but I see him more as a longer-term project still and his form lacks the strength of a couple others and at the prices I`m happy to take on.

Selection: Fakiera

Each Way: The Cob

15.05 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

Al Boum Photo Horse

Key Profile

  • Will have previous Festival form, 16 of the last 21 at worst placed prior.
  • Previous Grade 1 winner. All of the last 21
  • Ran 3 or less times this season and not on heavy ground
  • 2nd or 3rd season chasers with no more than 12 runs over fences, 18 of the last 21
  • Top 2 finish last time.18 of the last 21.

Key Race

  • King George or Irish Gold Cup form, 17 of the last 21
  • Last season’s RSA Chase

Key Trainers

  • British trained runners hold Ireland 16 to 7 in the last 23 years but Irish based runners have won 3 of the last 5

Leading Fancies

Dual winner Al Boum Photo is likely to go off favourite as he bids to emulate the likes of Arkle and Best Mate by winning a third consecutive Gold Cup.

The Willie Mullins trained runner has followed a similar preparation to the last 2 years in that he has a light campaign where they the race at Tramore as the preparation for the big day itself.

There is no reason to not expect him to be arriving in the same form this season, he`s won the race in different ways the last 2 occasions so is adaptable to how the race will play out tactics wise and there looks no obvious reason to see him not going close once more.

We could see a change of tactics in how stablemate Kemboy is ridden this year which will be interesting to see however he has never placed from 4 attempts now at Cheltenham and makes limited appeal for me.

The other main Irish Challenge and my main fancy for the race is the Henry De Bromhead trained A Plus Tard. The Gelding has a festival victory to his name already when a runner away winner of Close Brothers Handicap 2 years ago.

Last year he ran another fine race here finishing 3rd in the Ryanair Chase. All that form was over shorter trips than this and it`s also worth mentioning he had the speed to beat Chacun Pour Soi over 2 miles in between those festival races.

A horse who has always had the potential to see out his type iof trip he showed he had that required stamina at when winning the Savills Chase having a couple of these in behind that day. Good ground will suit and I would rather be with the younger progressive type in the line-up.

Champ is another to have more scope for improvement still having just had the 5 starts over fences to date. It looked like he was all about stamina when getting up close home from an unlikely position in last season’s RSA Chase but its questionable if his main rivals just didn’t see the trip out that day.

He has only been seen once this season when finishing 2nd over 2 mile in the Game Spirit which is not the usual preparation for this race and I`m happy to leave him at the likely odds with those concerns.

Nicky Henderson also runs Santini who will have headgear on for the first time, It’s an interesting move by connections and if it can eliminate that flat spot in his rsce he should be involved, however, I can`t help think he`s had his best chances to win this on softer ground.

With the ground coming right for him the best of the English based runners could well turn out to be Frodon.

He took his form over staying trips to a new level last time out when winning the King George and for me proved himself fully at this type of trip at the top level.

He’s the one horse in the field who will appreciate drying conditions more than any of his rivals Good Ground and we know he simply loves Cheltenham being a winner 6 times here in the past.

It would be a fairy-tale story for racing and connections involved if he was to win the race and there looks to be a realistic chance of it happening.

Selection: A Plus Tard

Each Way: Frodon

15.40 St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Cheltenham Horse Racing

Key Stats

  • Doesn’t need to be proven over this trip
  • Last 6 winners aged 10 or 11
  • Rated 134+ 9 of the last 11
  • Winner or at worst placed last time out

Key Races

  • 5 of the last 9 winners ran in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters’ Chase

Leading Fancies

Last seasons running of the race looks a good place to start with Billaway, It Came To Pass and Staker Wallace all involved in then. It Came To Pass came home in front that day but it looks to me as if the Willie Mullins Billaway has progressed further this season and is the most likely of the trio this time around.

There is not likely to be much between them however and with that the case I`m happy to look at other form angles for the winner. Paul Nicholls has plenty of previous in this race and he looks to have a strong chance once more in the shape of Bob And Co.

He’s a lightly-raced 10-year-old in this country so could have more to offer still he was an impressive winner at Haydock last month posted what looked a very good rating.

An uncomplicated prominent racer and if getting into a nice position early is likely to take some beating. Late Night Pass has a bit to find with some of these however he won a hunter chase over course and distance a couple of years ago so is proven under these conditions.

Good ground will suit and he could be staying on better than a few of these.

Selection: Bob And Co

Each Way: Late Night Pass

16.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Registered As The Liberthine Mares’ Chase)

Horse Really Super

New race this season

Willie Mullins record with mares at the meeting suggest his runners are likely to be hard to beat.

Leading Fancies

Given Willie Mullins record in other Mares races at the festival, it’s no surprise to see his representatives dominating the market in the inaugural running of this race.

Colreevy could only manage a 5th place finish here over hurdles last season but she`s taken well to the larger obstacles being unbeaten in her 3 starts over the larger obstacles.

What she has achieved in those 3 runs for me is not as strong as others in the field to date though. All her best form on a soft surface and she`s convinced on her 2 visits to Cheltenham previously so I`d be happy to oppose

Elimay has less doubts about her than Colreevy on the likely quicker surface and I’d be happy to lean towards her over the pair. She was flattered to finish so close to Allaho 2 starts back but has since beat Shattered Light comfortably.

The latter does not seem to be horse she was though and whilst she is respected as the more likely and speedy type of the Mullins pair, she is not solid enough to be backing at short odds.

Shattered Love is a past festival winner herself and would hold strong claims at her best, shes 10 now though and is another who I think would prefer a softer surface.

The Jessie Harrington Magic Light maybe would have liked this race to have come a couple of years sooner but she still has some recent form to suggest she can go close.

She has been mixing it between hurdles and the larger obstacles recently and her last 2nd place to Roksana suggests she arrived here in good heart. Good ground will be no problem and if getting into a nice rhythm on the front end I can see this strong stayer take some passing.

Really Super has a fair bit to find with some of these on official ratings, however, she was a good winner of the Summer Plate at Market Rasen and showed herself to be in good form when winning a jumper’s bumper on her reappearance from a winters break.

She will appreciate the drying ground and could just go well at a price if getting into a nice rhythm early.

Selection: Magic Of Light

Each Way: Really Super

16.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Horse Racing


Key Stats

  • Graded race form, 10 of the 12 winners had ran in one
  • Large field experience, 11 of the 12 winners won a hurdle race with 11 runners or more
  • Second season hurdlers, 11 of the 12 winners
  • Carried 11-1 or more. All winners
  • Aged 7 or younger. All winners

Key Trainers

  • Again, a race for the 4 big for yards of Nicholls, Mullins, Henderson & Elliot. Owners Giggingstown have a strong record with 4 runners and numerous placed runners

Leading Fancies

The lucky last?

Langer Dan looks well in here for the Dan Skelton team returning to the track just 6 days after his Imperial Cup victory at Sandown.

Willie Mullins has had some success in this in recent years and looks to have a couple of interesting runners in the shape of Gentleman De Mee and Gslopin De Champs both have reasons to expect improvement from what we seen recently but that will be needed from there marks.

Gabynako won a large field maiden before chasing home Bob Olinger Naas in January. He struggled in a handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival after a bad mistake early, if we don’t see a reproduction of that he has the potential to be well treated off this type of mark and looks set to go close.

Commandingpresence didn’t get home over 3 miles when last seen back in December. Prior to this the Henry De Bromhead runner was set to win a listed event when falling at the last, He should prove better than a 137 runner in time and looks worth having on your side.

Whatsupwithyou arrives here fresh after a below-par effort at Kempton when last seen. Prior to this he ran a couple of good races in handicaps here at Cheltenham. Good ground suits as does a fast pace so it would be no surprise for him to outrun his odds.

Selection: Gabynako

Each Way: Commandingpresence

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