2.30 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Tips
Wednesday 17 March | Age: 4yo+ | Prize: £100,000
The Coral Cup is a Grade 3 handicap hurdle race, open to horses aged four and older. The race is run over a distance of just over two miles and five furlongs (2 miles, 5 furlongs and 26 yards).
There are plenty in with a shout at the top of the market including Kashari and Grand Roi but I'm looking for some value at a bigger price.
Final declarations are now in and Coral, Bet365 and others go 6 places each way whilst Paddy Power and Betfair go a massive 7 places each way. We can't pass up those opportunities for an each way punt.
Classy horses have a good record in this race and it tends to be those nearer the top of the handicap who do well.
In the past 5 years only two horses rated below 140 (Barra in 2018 and Thosedaysaregone in 2020) finished in the top 3 in this race and even then they were both only third. It certainly pays to concentrate on the classier horses at the top of the handicap.
Likewise, Nicky Henderson has a tremendous record in the race so his entries all need a second look.
I appreciate that everyone doesn't like backing multiple horses in one race but I have at least two that I like and with 6 and 7 places each way and some decent angles in I don't think there is any harm in doing that. You have to try to take advantage of these opportunities when they come along.
My top selection for the race is MONTE CRISTO who is trained by Nicky and currently rated 145. He is an improving horse who really got the hang of things last time out at Kempton on decent ground.
He is only a 5 year old which can be a negative in that he lacks experience but also gives him huge scope for improvement. I'm expecting a huge race from him though and I'm surprised that he is available at 14-1 with 7 places each way. I would gobble that up sooner rather than later and I'm hoping we can Count on him to deliver for us.
My second choice is THOMAS DARBY, a classy horse owned by Diana Whateley who must target this race because she had the winner two years ago (Diamond King) and also had Rock the Kasbah as one of the favourites the year he ran.
Thomas Darby is the clear top weight here but he is up there for a reason. He is a class act and at 8 years old isn't past his best by any stretch. I think he can run really well here provided there isn't a downpour over the next 48 hours which doesn't look likely.
I would be surprised if he doesn't finish in the top 6 or 7 and we are being well rewarded with his current standout price of 18-1 with the sponsors Coral.
The others that appeal are Blue Sari slightly further down the weights who can run a huge race if he rediscovers some of his previous form prior to injury and I think despite his single figure price Grand Roi is still a fair each way bet at 8-1 with the extra places available. I wouldn't put anyone off that one and I might have an each way saver on it myself.
Voice of Value's Coral Cup Tips
- Monte Cristo 1pt ew at 14-1 with Paddy Power or Betfair (both 7 places)
- Thomas Darby 1pt ew at 18-1 with Coral (6 places)
Nicky Henderson won this hot handicap 12 months ago with seven-year-old Dame De Compagnie and relies on another couple in the same age bracket, CRAIGNEICHE and Birchdale.
Lightly-raced Craigneiche has won three of his four starts, the latest at Ascot in January when inflicting a seven lengths defeat on Arrivederci. He is 12lb higher but still rates maximum respect. JP McManus’ Birchdale warmed up in unorthodox fashion (Jumpers’ Bumper at Kempton) last month and the owner’s ubiquitous green, gold and white colours are very much to the fore at Cheltenham.
Thomas Darby has no easy task conceding weight to 25 rivals but looks sure to run a big race for Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman, with cheekpieces fitted for the first time. He was good enough to chase home Klassical Dream in the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and again showed a liking for the track when mopping up a maiden hurdle the previous season. Thomas Darby gave 7lb and a beating to classy Song For Someone at Ascot last January and ran a fine third to Mcfabulous in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle.
Grand Roi, a three-time winner for Nicky Henderson before switching to Gordon Elliott (and now Denise Foster), also brings a touch of class into the race. He was the eight lengths winner of a Grade 2 contest at Limerick after Christmas and chased home Bachasson at Grade 3 level next time at Naas.
Paul Nicholls had seven entries but pins all his hopes on Saint Sonnet, a horse with form figures FPP against his name. The gelding hasn’t had a cut at his fences in the mud this winter but boasts some smart back-form over the smaller obstacles in France.
Willie Mullins is taking the race seriously and the pick of his quartet may be Koshari, a staying-on sixth to stable companion Maze Runner in a 22-runner handicap hurdle at Leopardstown in early February.
Voice of Value's Coral Cup Tip
- Craigneiche 10/1 (Casumo)
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