Day Four – Cheltenham Festival


13:30 Triumph Hurdle

This is fiendishly difficult, and we’d be lying if we said we had a strong view. JP McManus is mob handed in Friday’s opener with market leaders Defi Du Seuil and Charli Parcs. The former is unbeaten and has cruised through every race this season, including three times at Cheltenham, the latter fell last time when beaten in the Adonis. I say he was beaten, this is has been open to interpretation since and he has been the talk of Seven Barrows in the run up to the festival however and they think they’ve got him right.

Mega Fortune will need it softer, and Landofhopeandglory was group placed on the flat and represents last year’s winning owner / trainer connection so has to have a chance. The one I like is the horse who lowered the colours of Charli Parcs last time out. Master Blueyes was receiving weight that day but he really looked to have matured and absolutely bounded clear of the rest.

Selection – Master Blueyes @ 7/1

14:10 County Hurdle

Looking across the field and you could note that a few of these Irish raiders have been raised quite a bit by a man whose name was dirt across the Irish sea before they won 6 of the 7 races yesterday. With the way the festival has gone it is quite difficult to rule these guys out. One thing we are willing to do after the way the big handicaps have gone this year is dismiss the favourite and thus Mick Jazz is out, with ground, course and weight all slight question marks.

One thing that has been highlighted this year is the strength of the Supreme form from 2016 and we have another from that race here today in the shape of North Hill Harvey who looks a right old bet even if he is a bit skimpy. There is a hell of a lot of festival form in this race with returning champs Ivanovich Gorbatov, Diego Du Charmil also entered.

Ivanovich Gorbatov has been mixing it with some of the big boys and girls and has been close to talented animals such as Let’s Dance and in case you’ve forgotten he also put Apple’s Jade to the sword at the Festival last year and that’s very tough to look past. He is however carrying a hefty old weight and he’s not the only one with Diego Du Charmil carrying 16lbs more than when winning at the festival last year.

Preference here is going to have to go with North Hill Harvey who’s won here twice and was travelling very strongly in that Supreme before absolutely clouting one and falling back, a raise of 8lbs for his latest win seems fair and it’s very hard to imagine him out of the frame here rounding that bend.

Selection – North Hill Harvey @ 8/1

                   Ivanovich Gorbatov @ 12/1

14:50 Albert Bartlett

We’ve searched hard in this race and there’s quite a few in with a shout. Ami Desbois, Constantine Bay and probably the best of them The Worlds End have the potential to step up to certainly at least place. Wholestone has had a hard campaign although not running since January but hasn’t quite got the class to win this. 

As much as we want value it’s come down to a two horse race in effect. Augusta Kate and Death Duty battled it out before with the Mullins representative falling at the last, leaving Death Duty to take the credit. I don’t think you can call it that day as she near looks to be strongly galloping but stays nevertheless. Still, we side with Death Duty on this one at the short price as when Gordon says ‘he’s better than Don Cossack was at his age’ and that ‘he’s his best bet of the festival’ you have to take note. Want something bigger? Then go with The Worlds End EW.

Selection – Death Duty @ 2/1

15:30 Gold Cup

Following Ruby Thursday, Djakadam has just edged ahead in the market. Frankly, I can’t have him. Horses never go one better in this and although his form behind first Coneygree, then Don Cossack stacks up really well, the gruelling nature of this race leaves its mark on horses. This logic also leaves me striking through the grand old boy Cue Card, the great what-could-have-been story of  last year.

Up and coming chasers are the place to look for this race in a market that’s already been decimated by drop outs, injuries, and fatalities. Native River has dominated this season, winning the Hennessy, then the Welsh National, then putting lively outsider Bristol de Mai to the sword last time out.

Sizing John spent most of last season staring at Douvan’s not inconsiderable arse. He’s proved a revelation this year stepped up in trip, most impressively last time when landing the Irish Gold Cup. I do still have my doubts about his stamina over the extended 3m2f though. The one I prefer is Outlander. The form of the Lexus Chase at Christmas stacks up so well, in behind were: Don Poli; Djakadam; Valseur Lido; More of That; Road to Riches…the list goes on. I feel more confident about him staying the brutal trip than Sizing John, so he’s the one for me.

Selection – Outlander @ 11/1 E/W

16:10 Foxhunters’ Chase

The coddfather rides hat trick seeking on the fridge and he will be mightily popular in the betting rings. Given his likely price I am inclined to look at a couple at a bigger price. 

The first is ask the weatherman. He is 8 from 9 in point to points and looks like he deserves this step up in class. The other is an Irish pointer Sweet as a nut who looks like another progressive type and we will take these two but no surprises if the coddfather is the one first past the post.

Selections – Ask The Weatherman @ 9/1

                     Sweet As A Nut @ 22/1 E/W

16:50 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

At this point your either laughing at your mate who’s lost his head from a terrible weeks betting or just looking at anything 50/1 and over hoping somehow, somewhere there’s a chance it will win. Quite fittingly there’s one horse we have picked out here for it and that is Runfordave. Don’t ask questions. Your still here reading this because your TNS’s biggest fan or Didn’t want to sift through 24 horses.

Selection – Runfordave @ 10/1 E/W

17:30 Grand Annual

It’s been emotional, it’s been turbulent, we’ve had good times, we’ve had bad times but my God how much we will miss you, our Cheltenham Festival. The aptly named Grand Annual is the final race of this most magnificent week, which to all of us horse racing fans,  there really is no better.

We hope that you won’t have done your bollocks and lost your house, wife and children by now but even if you have we have two motto’s at TNS that we live and die by:- NGU – NEVER GIVE UP WGA – WE GO AGAIN So let us find you the winner of this race and try and salvage or indeed if you followed TNS on Thursday top off a truly incredible week!

To be honest the favourite is favourite for a reason it looks a really nice prospect, in great form, and off a lovely weight and who would put it past Mr Nicholls producing the winner in the finale after an indifferent week.

Previous festival form is a major plus as we have seen time and time and time and time and time again, therefore two who have had decent form in the not too distant past are Dodging Bullets and The Game Changer. Gordon Elliot and Gigginstown have had a week to remember and The Game Changer represents a great chance in the last and you can be sure he will have been primed all year for this, however his recent form just puts us off slightly.

That leads us to Dodging Bullets, once a truly fantastic horse winning the Champion Chase in 2015 and whilst he probably hasn’t kicked on since then having a disappointing season, we believe form is temporary and class is permanent. He also has a great mark back in handicapping company and with Mr Fehily on board who has been truly outstanding all week, let’s all pray that Mr Nicholls can produce his magic and ensure that we all leave Prestbury Park with our pints held high.

Another great festival, who said racing is dead. TNS ️ CHELTS! NGU! WGA! WWTWLT!!!

Selections – Dodging Bullets @ 14/1 E/W

                     The Game Changer @ 14/1 E/W