I’ve done it, my record of never having a losing Cheltenham Festival is still in tact. I’m sitting at +4.065 points for the week and I’m only laying out four points today. I always like to compare my results to that of just backing the SP favourite. At the moment having one point win on all the favourites would see you sitting at +3.29 points, largely down to Coo Coo Sivola and The Storyteller.
13:30 | Triumph Hurdle
This is the one! I’ve been looking forward to this race for ages as it has the horse I put up as my NAP of the week (that doesn’t mean I’ve had more on it). STORMY IRELAND put up a huge time figure, on my watch, when she won at Fairyhouse by 58 lengths. I think this horse is a 160 horse, which is a rating good enough to have won all bar one Triumph Hurdle this century. She should go from the front and if Noel Fehily can get the fractions right I see her drawing further and further clear. There are no issues with the ground and she’s already had enough racing after running three times in France, prior to her switch to Willie Mullins. It was said earlier in the season that she was the stables best juvenile, which you have to take as a positive when Mr Adjudicator won a Grade One beating Farclas.
Her biggest threat is the other mare, Apple’s Shakira. The full sister to Apple’s Jade also looks something special, with her three wins from three starts at this venue. My concern with is that she may get tagged for toe. In her last start she took a while to pick up and if the race unfolds how I think it will she may run out of time to catch the selection.
Looking at the shape of the market, I believe there is an each-way angle here with Bet365 (1/4 odds, 3 places). This means the place side of the bet is 2.25, although you’d make 0.19 points profit for a one point each-way bet if she finishes second or third. Effectively this is a bet to nothing, as I’ll be extremely disappointed if she’s not in the front three.
BACK STORMY IRELAND at 6.00 Each-Way (Bet365)
14:50 | Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
This race has been a graveyard for me since I started betting, I think I’ve won on it twice. Looking back at previous results it appears to make sense to avoid the horses with the ‘flashier’ profiles. This race is a grind and therefore I’m looking for a battle hardened horse. CALETT MAD has had more runs than any horse in this race and this will do for me. The trip and ground will be no issue. In his last run he was having his second race after wind surgery, they changed tactics on him that day and held him up at the rear. He was second top weight in the handicap that day and he won by two lengths going away. When most of these have pulled up or are gasping for air, he’ll be staying on. From a betting point of view I don’t like the each-way make up of this bet, so it’s win only for me.
BACK CALETT MAD at 17.0 (General)
15:30 | The Gold Cup
I love a second season chaser for this race and there’s two of them that have been on my list for a long time. MIGHT BITE has done nothing wrong this season, he’s two from two this season and won The King George despite idling after the last. I don’t see anything in the race that will be able to keep with him and I expect him to jump the last in front. He is by Scorpion and those breeding quirks showed up last year when he almost threw The RSA Chase away. However there were positives from that, he almost stopped dead before rallying to pass Whisper. To be able to do that after a strong gallop for the best part of three miles gives me no doubt he’ll stay. The ground is a concern, but the price is now too big. On form he should be a 3.25 chance at most, add in ground concerns and maybe he should be a 4.00 chance. The market has overreacted to soft ground, this horse doesn’t need genuinely good ground and I’d rather back a class horse some slow plodder just because it’s rained.
The other horse I like for this race is ROAD TO RESPECT. He was the formline I used to get Balko Des Flos onside yesterday and I see no reason to not be backing him in this race. If Might Bite idles after the last then this is the horse I can see staying on to pass him up the hill. He won at The Festival last year, before landing a Grade One at Punchestown. He’s a genuine Grade One performer, which is more than what can be said for most of this field and he shouldn’t be a double figure price.
It’s possible to back two, dutched, at 3.86 and that is the perfect play for me.
BACK MIGHT BITE at 5.50 (Betfred) for 70.27% of Total Stake
BACK ROAD TO RESPECT at 13.0 (Betfair, Coral, Betfred) for 29.73% of Total Stake
The End! I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable week and hopefully I’ve helped to point you in the direction of some winners.