2019 Gold Cup-day Fancies

Peter Kingston lines up his Gold Cup-day fancies on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival

I’ve haven’t enjoyed a day’s racing like yesterday’s in a long, long time. The stories, the characters involved, the finishes and the rides were as good as it gets. Let’s hope today is half as entertaining and we get a few winners.

1.30pm Triumph Hurdle

Sir Erec will be the Irish banker and I couldn’t knock him except the short price. A full horse, he could follow the likes of Alderbrook and Monksfield to win Champion Hurdles and go on to have a stud career. He’s been visually exceptional but hasn’t posted a real fast time yet.

The value alternatives for me are the Paul Nicholls pair. Quel Destin is progressive, uncomplicated and a really sound jumper. He would appreciate any further rain and his master trainer said he left a bit to work on from his latest win in Haydock. Quel Destin finds loads off the bridle.

Pic d’Ohry is unraced in England but the handicapper has given him a mark of 149, setting a really high standard, only 2 pounds off Sir Erec. The same connections won the Fred Winter off the same preparation with Diego Du Charmil. Pic d’Ohry has ran 7 times in France and won three, finishing 2nd in a Grade 1 and Grade 2 also.

Pic d’Orhy was 2nd last time out in France in a Grade 1 where he did all the donkey work but stuck at it when passed. He looks fair each-way bet today and Nicholls will, if anything, have improved him.

A mention for Coeur Sublime, who might be crying out for a strongly-run race and still has potential.

2.10 County Hurdle

Baroneracing.com are paying 5 places on this extremely-competitive handicap. Bar One Racing are in fact BEST PRICE EVERY FAVOURITE on the LIVE SHOW EVERY RACE today and are also paying 4 EXTRA-PLACE races.

Crooks Peak is my idea of each-way value here, he’s a bumper winner at the track and is 3/4 over hurdles and 5/7 under rules. He is lightly raced, progressive and could cope with step up in class here better than the odds suggest for champion jockey Richard Johnson and rejuvenated Philip Hobbs yard.

2.50 Albert Bartlett

A tremendous race full of future champions. Sorting it out today though is fiendishly difficult. I’m surprised by the drift of Commander of Fleet who holds good form coming into the race. Weakness in the betting is worrying but may correct itself nearer the off. Rhinestone, who finished 2nd to Commander of Fleet in Leopardstown, shouldn’t be far away and looks a real stayer who appreciates a sound surface; the less rain and more wind the better.

This is generally a stamina test and experience is key. Lisnagar Oscar fits that bill. Four runs, dour stayer and by Oscar who’s bred three winners of the race in the last ten years. His dam was a sister of Whisper. He lacks class for me though and should find a few too good. Birchdale was paid half-a -ompliment by Ballymore 4th Brewinupastorm on Wednesday. He’s inexperienced but could be very good and has course form.

The two for me against the field however are Allaho and Derrinross. Allaho is another Guy Cherel recruit and looked a monster when winning a Grade 3 over hurdles in Clonmel latest. He looks very exciting, a big unit who races freely but also stays well and looks like soft ground will suit. Allaho beat a 127 horse 12 lengths in Clonmel and could be anything, as the cliche goes.

The support for the Mullins 5 year old is encouraging, and while inexperience is discouraging, he’d have been at it from an early age in France and Mullins can prime one for the big day whatever the weather.

Derrinross could do with any more rain. He has 5 hurdle runs under his belt, a second season novice and an 8 year old who beat Sam’s Profile in Cork and won in Limerick at Christmas giving weight away. A point to point winner on heavy and 2nd to Next Destination in a bumper, he shouldn’t be found wanting late on.

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3.30 Gold Cup

If the rain misses today and the wind dries the track out by half-past three, who could rule out Might Bite, who is probably the most talented in the field but flawed. Might Bite has had a wind op since new year, bled after the King George and supposedly wasn’t ready enough for the Betfair. Nicky Henderson has a reputation for comebacks. It was interesting hearing Barry Geraghty on an Attheraces Cheltenham Preview mentioning Might Bite’s dam was a serial bleeder, a small nugget of info maybe enough to put me off the fairytale.

Al Boum Photo is the best of the Irish for me at the prices. Only 7, he could be improving at a rapid rate. Held when falling to Presenting Percy in last year’s RSA. He then won a Grade 1 novice chase in Fairyhouse and should have followed up in Punchestown. This year his only run came at Tramore on New Year’s Day when he gave weight and a beating to some good rivals in a fast time, comprehensively beating Total Recall despite giving him weight, a horse who looked like he might have been placed in last year’s Gold Cup before falling 3 out.

The selection for me, though, is Bristol De Mai. Pigeon-holed as a soft ground, Haydock horse, I feel this is premature. He’s a big price for a horse who’s only run this year when standing up reads;

1st Bristol De Mai , 2nd Native River, 3rd Thistlecrack, 4th Clan Des Obeaux and 5th Might Bite. All 4 behind him there but ahead of him in today’s betting. Go figure.

He was an early faller in the King George and that can be forgiven. He’s coming into the race  fresh and still only an 8 year old. He was in the process of running a fine race in the Gold Cup as a 6 year old behind Sizing John when clouting the 2nd last in 2017.

A fuller preview of the race of the festival can be found here. 4 places is a great help here each way at Bar One Racing.

4.10 Foxhunters Chase

I wouldn’t claim to know anything about these. I know who does though.

He adds Cousin Pete and Double Whammy at prices this morning, also in the Foxhunters. You can follow one of the shrewdest judges on twitter @rhys_n_williams

4.50 Grand Annual

A chance is taken with Le Prezien and Barry Geraghty. He won this race last year off just 1 pound lower by 4.5 lengths. While his recent form and jumping has been suspect, I think it’s worth forgiving with the knowledge that he has the ability over course and distance if on a going day.

The UK should win the race, Ireland have a sole representative, the talented but really quirky Mind’s Eye.

5.30 Martin Pipe

I think this is between Dallas des Pictons and Early Doors. No prizes for originality here then. My advice would be to bet between 10am and 1pm when prices are at their best and avail of 5 places with Bar One Racing each way.

Generally, the fancied runners go off much shorter than advertised later in the day at Cheltenham.

Dallas des Pictons is progressive, highly regarded and won snugly in an unsatisfactorily-run race at Leopardstown. Early Doors ran a blinder here last year, has been holding his own at a higher level than this and will be primed for today.

The season’s two outstanding trainers have been Gordon Elliott and Joseph O’Brien. I’m happy to keep it simple in the last.

Selections:

1.30 Pic d’Ohry ew at 10/1

2.10 Crooks Peak ew at 11/1

2.50 Allaho ew at 15/2

3.30 Bristol De Mai ew at 25/1

4.10 Cousin Pete & Double Whammy ew at 33/1 & 66/1

4.50 Le Prezien ew at 11/1

5.30 Dallas des Pictons & Early Doors ew at 7/2 & 9/2

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article