CHELTENHAM PREVIEW DAY 4 2020
1.30 JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE
ALLMANKIND is one of the main contenders here and looks like he will take all the beating in a very competitive renewal of the race.
He likes to get on with things, as does his market rival Goshen, but Allmankind looks as if he will relish the ground and he is already a course winner. His Cheltenham win earlier in the season is what really impressed me, when he pulled so hard most of the way and was still extremely impressive in his manner of victory.
He backed that up with an excellent performance at Chepstow over Christmas where he absolutely demolished a field which included Cerberus, trained by Joseph O Brien. The Skeltons have always held this horse in high regard and he looks like he will give them plenty to be excited about.
A strong contender here for sure.
2.10 COUNTY HURDLE
On paper, ARAMON looks something of a blot on the handicap considering that he has finished down the field behind Honeysuckle and Sharjah in his last two runs.
His run last time out behind Honeysuckle is what really stands out. Honeysuckle franked the form in no uncertain terms by winning the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday. Darver Star, who finished second to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown last time – when Sharjah was fifth – finished third in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle at the Festival. The form is solid.
This horse looks like he has taken a bit of time to come to himself this season, but now that he steps into handicap company off 148 he can be looked at with plenty of confidence. He is a Grade One-winning hurdler from last season when he was successful in the Future Champions Novice over Christmas.
He wont mind the ground and should run well at a very decent each way price.
2.50 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICE HURDLE
I would love nothing more than to see Paul Nolan get a big winner at Cheltenham and he looks to have a very big chance here with LATEST EXHIBITION.
This horse was one of the winners at the Dublin Racing Festival that went straight into my notebook as the ideal Cheltenham horse, and the ante-post market looks to have backed that up that view. This horse is all about stamina, and if he is close in the final furlong he certainly wont be stopping.
He burst the bubble of Andy Dufresne earlier in the season at Navan and that was no mean feat considering Andy Dufresne was very much hyped-up by the Gordon Elliott stable. He has never finished outside the first two in all his career starts and looks the one to pay most attention to here.
He heads most of the markets overnight but I think it is justified.
3.30 MAGNERS CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
Undoubtedly the feature race of the entire week and I can see the Gold Cup heading back across the water to the stable of Pat Kelly.
PRESENTING PERCY has been an absolute credit to this yard but the ground is a massive factor with this horse and the softer it gets the better his chance. The double-figure price quoted by many seems a bit too big for me and he looks solid each-way value.
I was at Leopardstown for his last run behind Delta Work and to me it looked like he would improve off the back of it. He is as dual Cheltenham Festival winner and I think he could be the fly in the ointment this time around.
His career has had its ups and downs, and even though his trainer will say very little, he is a shrewd man who knows the time of day. Davy Russell knows this horse extremely well and it wouldnt surprise me one bit to see him in contention up the hill.
He looks the value at the forecast prices and should give us a decent run for our money.
4.10 ST JAMES PALACE FOXHUNTERS CHASE
Jonjo O’Neill has done a magnificent job to get MINELLA ROCCO back in great shape and to be in contention for Cheltenham Festival glory.
This horse looked completely out of love with the game as he continued to finish down the field in many of the top staying chases. Hunter Chases seem to have given him new life and he looks one of the main contenders with Derek O’Connor on board.
He is 2 from 2 in his races this season in his new discipline and his stamina could be the major factor here. His run at Warwick last time out was very interesting. He looked like he was going to be outpaced on numerous occasions but battled away and stayed on strongly to get up close home. There is no better man on board than Derek O’Connor and both jockey and horse look to have a never-say-die attitude.
The perfect team for the perfect race. Will be hard to beat.
4.50 JONNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL CHALLENGE CUP
It is very noticeable that Nicky Henderson has only one runner here in THEINVAL in a bid to win the race named after his father.
This horse has a good record in this race, having finished 3rd and 4th in it, and even though he looks to have very little chance based on form this season, it would be unwise to rule him out. He was pulled up in his run this season and I would draw a line through that as maybe it was a fitness boost to get him right for this race as it has been his target all season. He will arrive here a fresh horse, and while it is a very speculative selection, the double-figure price is tempting on this horse.
He is worth a small play as we come to the end of what has been an excellent week.
5.30 MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS HANDICAP HURDLE
I have had a horse in my notebook for quite a while following his run in the Triumph Hurdle last season and I am actually amazed by the price quoted overnight and in the lead-up to this race.
ECCO, who is trained by Paul Nicholls, was sixth in last year’s Triumph Hurdle behind Pentland Hills, where he did all of his best work towards the end of the race. He finished third in the Supreme Novices’ Trial at Cheltenham earlier in the season and on that occasion he got outpaced. He was then outgunned by Fred at Kempton and it looked to me as if he needed a step up in trip. He ran in a very competitive handicap hurdle at Newbury last time out and, under Bryony Frost, he was unable to land a blow.
He may want the ground to dry out a bit but I think he is completely underestimated and could surprise quite a few running on late.