IT was a tough day to find real value at Cheltenham on Thursday as four of the six races were won by favourites. Ross Clark from Winning Inisghts casts his eye over the final day of the Festival including a preview of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Triumph Hurdle Reasonably competitive race, though there only looks to be a few probable winners. Recent form is important historically, previous winners having won at least two hurdle races and at least 50% of their attempts over hurdles. They should also be recent hurdle debutants and reasonably fresh. Reviewing the stats brings us to a short list comprising Baby Mix, Balder Succes, Darroun, Grumeti, Hisaabaat, Pearl Swan, Sadler’s Risk and Urbain de Sivola.
Baby Mix looks strong, won well last time out at Kempton, likes the ground, and has positive French breeding. He beat Sadler’s Risk who may find it difficult to reverse this form.
Balder Succes is attracting market support but seems to like the softer ground and it remains to be seen how he will cope with the Cheltenham going.
The same trainer, Alan King, also runs Grumeti who is probably the preferred option, but he was not over impressive in his last win, which also had Keys as a main competitor missing. Grumeti is also attracting market support.
Darroun looks very useful but has only won the one hurdle race.
Hisaabaat and Pearl Swan also have something to offer, while Urbain de Sivola can’t be discounted.
It is possible one of the slightly longer odds runners would be a decent each way bet, e.g. Urbain de Sivola, Hisaabaat or Darroun but I’m going to side with Baby Mix.
He looks the one to beat, may well not start favourite, and should offer a decent enough each way price to provide some insurance.
Ross Clark’s Tip
- Baby Mix (1pt each way)
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The pinnacle event of the Festival. Much debate and speculation has surrounded this race. Can Kauto Star build on his recent excellent form, demonstrate in race conditions no il- effects from his recent schooling fall, and reverse last year’s outcome when Long Run took the prize.
Can Long Run, who has disappointed this year, particularly with his jumping, rise to the peak of his form and readiness at the right time to take the prize?
Are there any real challengers? The decision to place Grand Crus elsewhere took one major alternative out of the race for me, but are there others?
Once again the stats have been reviewed and I was surprised at how quickly the field narrowed.
For one reason or another, the requirements demonstrated by virtually all previous Gold Cup winners seem to be missing with the vast majority of this year’s field. Horses like Midnight Chase, Weird Al, Synchronised, Burton Port, Captain Chris fail to meet the criteria.
One or other is excluded because they fall short of the required Official rating, or are too far behind the leaders’ RPR, have no winning or placed experience at the Festival, have not won a grade 1 chase and are not strong enough in the market, albeit they may be fancied to place.
Which means that this seems to be a race between Long Run and Kauto Star to win. And not an easy one to decide on.
Paul Nicholls seems very confident Kauto is back at his best after the fall. He has already surprised us this season by what looks like increased performance as he gets older, not diminished. So, is the fact that an 11 year old has not won the race since 1969 a concern?
And is Long Run’s patchy form a concern or do we believe he will come good at the exactly right time? Will he come on from his win last month at Newbury beating Burton Port by ½ length?
I think he will.
I’m just not convinced Kauto Star can keep up the level of performance he has shown this season, also given the unexpected attention and training he has required.
Cheltenham is a very different course and I believe Long Run will demonstrate his champion qualities once more.
Ross Clark’s Tip
- Long Run 1pt win.