Cheltenham – Day 4

After another impressive day, Tom Nugent finishes his series of Cheltenham previews.

Tom Nugent

Staff Writer

The feeling is difficult to describe when your first horse of the day is a winner and it begins to become apparent that you are going to make money for the festival overall, with one day still to go. The studying of the form for that last few weeks has been made very much worthwhile. My picks for the day were Sirs des Champs win, Medermit each way, Buena Vista each way, Niceonefrankie each way and Sunnyhillboy each way.

Sirs des Champs ran in the first carrying the Gigginstown colours. He tracked the leaders nicely early on and jumped into second four from home still on the bridle. He jumped to pressure the leader on the second last and came upside him over the last. He quickened on the flat and gave me back my total stake for the days racing plus a few quid. Dreamland.

The second race saw an unfit Buena Vista struggle into the lead three out but had to be pushed soon after and was very much out of gas. The 14/1 shot, Cape Tribulation, hung on to win by three quarters of a length. In the next I fancied Medermit to run well and, bar a hiccup at the second last, did so and ran into each way money only a length back from the winner and adding to the pot, much to my delight.

In the big one Big Bucks made the punters happy by winning the World Hurdle again an looked in good shape coming to the line. A very impressive Voler la Vodette ran into second and I look forward to see where she runs next, as she has to get money on her after that performance.

In the last race I had Sunnyhillboy and, to be honest I wasn’t too worried either way with him. But he won, beating BecauseIcouldntsee by four and a half lengths. I am officially the smuggest man on the planet at the moment!

We look to that last day of the festival to try and add to our, ever growing, pot.

The first race tomorrow is the JCB Triumph Hurdle over two mile one.  The favourite is Baby mix, who was a beaten favourite last time out, and I think could easily be beaten again here. Just outside I the prices is Sadler’s Risk, from the Hobbs yard. He has been a decent enough flat performer and only started his jumping career this year with a win and a place under his belt. The quick pace and short distance of this race will really suit him. Has every chance. The other option I would give is Hisabaat, who shows good form, with a handful of places and a win, over Shadow Catcher, in Leopardstown last time. The critics say Dermot Weld doesn’t have a clue how to get a horse in shape for Cheltenham, and looking at his form they have a point, but I would keep my eye on this lad.

The second race is the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle run over two mile one again. This race is pretty open, and unfortunately the winner of the Imperial cup, Paintball does not run.  The current favourite, Citizenship, is a good horse but is beatable. The horse I fancy here is Alan King’s Raya Star for some each way money. Placed in every run this term, along with a win, he should have a decent shout. Ground will suit. I think Ted Spread should also bounce back after a disappointing run in Sandown last time out.

The next is the Albert Bartlett Novice’s Hurdle over three miles. When asked for a winner for the festival, Willie Mullins didn’t even suggest Hurricane fly to an owner, but said Boston Bob was the one. He is 6/4 favourite here and, with those words in mind, will take some beating. If you want to have a bet here it would be no harm to have a look at the outsiders, as they have been getting in to the money all week. I might (emphasis on the might) stick a very small few quid on The Bosses Cousin, who won both his bumper and maiden hurdle pretty impressively this term, although does lack experience at this level. The favourite should do the business.

Next up is the pinnacle of the week; the Cheltenham Gold Cup over three mile two and a half. Long Run was described to me as a certainty today, and to be honest my head agrees with that, but my heart is most certainly backing the old warrior Kauto Star. I’m really tempted to stay out of this one and just enjoy it, but I think I will stick a few quid on my boy Kauto and just write it off the balance books. If he comes in it’s a bonus and a testament to the champion that he is. I just can’t warm to Long Run at all, even though he is, no doubt, a great horse for his age. I think Sam Waley-Cohen is over rated, and if anything goes wrong on the way round, I would have my doubts about him having any influence on his mount’s decision making to get back in contention. Quel Esprit, with three wins on the bounce, and Burtenport are the each way punts. Long Run should win, but I don’t want him to!

The next is the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase over three mile two and a half. Information just in off the wires, all the way from county Cork, has it that Salsify will run an extremely good race and will be in with a strong chance. The info, coming from a source close to the owners, would suggest that he is the one here.

The penultimate is the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle and is a very difficult race to call. Each way bets are the order of the day here, if you feel the need to get involved.  I’m going to go for Molotof here, who comes into the race on a hot streak of three straight wins. He is weighted second, but I think his experience will leave him in with a chance. Advice is to stay away if at all possible.

The last race of the Cheltenham festival for 2012 is the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase. This is another wide open race, and if I was you I’d be looking for the car keys and heading off before the traffic. However, if you feel inclined I would look to Kumbeshwar, from Alan King, and Slieveardagh, the mount of Andrew Lynch.  These two horses have good form this season, are weighted fairly and will enjoy the surface conditions. Each way is the name of the game here again, but I would be telling you to keep your money in your pocket and head for the hills.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the festival so far and I hope tomorrow brings more luck. I hope you are up so far and if not can do your best to make it back tomorrow. The very best of luck with your selections.

It has been a pleasure.