Day-3 of the Cheltenham Festival saw Ireland destroy England and, though the Irish Charge was fancied to be led by Gordon Elliott after he stole the show on the first two-days, it was Willie Mullins who resurrected his and Ruby Walsh’s Cheltenham Festival aspirations with an incredible four-timer.
It looks sure to be an interesting battle between Elliott and Mullins for the Trainer’s Title on the final day of the 2017 Festival, on a day when Willie Mullins bids to win his first Cheltenham Gold Cup with Djakadam, who was runner-up in both 2015 and 2016.
We’ve tips for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as well as the Triumph Hurdle, The County Hurdle, The Albert Bartlett, The Foxhunters, The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, and the Grand Annual Handicap Chase.
Triumph Hurdle 1.30
- England have won 7 renewals, Ireland have won 3 of the last 4
- Nicky Henderson has trained 3 of the last 8 winners
- SPs ranged from 2/1 to 33/1
- Winners last ran 20 to 55 days previously
- 6 winners won last time out
The English contenders are led by Defi Du Seuil, and six consecutive wins means he arrives here with plenty of experience and the best form in the bag for trainer Phillip Hobbs, who trained the winner in 2004 and 2006. Alan King is another trainer with two Triumph Hurdles on his CV, and he’s represented by the rapidly improving Masterblueyes and the well-regarded Coueur De Lion. However, it is Nicky Henderson who has trained 3 winners in the last 8 years, and he saddles decent ex-flat horse Soldier In Action and Charli Parcs. The former won well last-time when well-backed, whilst the latter was thought to be one of Henderson’s better chances at the festival until he put Barry Geraghty on the deck and out of the Festival last time at Kempton. Ireland also have some significant challengers in Baupaume and Mega Fortune, respectively trained by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott. Landofhopeandglory is also interesting having been a high-class flat-horse, and new trainer Joseph O’Brien was responsible for training last year’s winner Ivanovitch Gorbatchov, though it was his dad’s name on the license.
Win Bet: Defi Du Seuil @ 5/2 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Landofhopeandglory @ 14/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 3 places
County Hurdle 2.10
- Ireland have won 7 renewals, England 3
- Willie Mullins has trained 3 winners
- Ruby Walsh has ridden 2 winners
- SPs have ranged from 8/1 to 50/1, only 1 returned less than 10/1
- Winners were rated 132 to 139
- Winners carried 10-0 to 11-4
- Winners ran 6 to 124 days previously
- Five winners were 5-year-olds
The most interesting statistic is that all of the last 10 winners have been rated between 132 and 139 and, if that’s to happen again, the winner will come from the bottom 12 runners. Wait For Me looks to have been plotted at this race all season, and trainer Phillip Hobbs looks to have done a magnificent job of getting last year’s fourth off a 4lb lower mark, and he has 10lb less on his back this year. However, he finished well-behind Song Light last time when that one was fourth in the Betfair Hurdle, which followed a decent third in the Greatwood Hurdle. The other interesting one is the lightly-raced novice Mohaayed, and the former 107-rated flat horse could be very well-handicapped for last year’s winning connections. However, stable jockey Harry Skelton remains loyal to Greatwood Hurdle winner North Hill Harvey. There’s some class at the top in the form of former Champion Hurdle placed Arctic Fire. However, it’s Micks Jazz who appeals as another likely winner for Ireland, whilst Court Minstrel looks well-handicapped returned to a sound surface.
Win Bet: Micks Jazz @ 9/1 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Court Minstrel @ 40/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 5 places
Albert Bartlett 2.50
- England have won 7 renewals, Ireland have won 3
- Lady Trainers have trained 3 of the last 5 winners
- Winners have been aged 5 to 8
- Winners last ran 27 to 68 days previously
- SPs ranged from 15/8 to 33/1
- 5 winners won last time out
English trained runners have fared best so far, and the home challenge is headed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Wholestone, who has lots of course form, whilst The Worlds End is fancied to perform well for trainer Tom George. However, the Irish horses look superior this season. Death Duty looks the right favourite on his unbeaten form this season and, though he looks a potentially high-class 3-mile chaser of the future, he looks sure to go well. However, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh are keen to take him on again after looking like they would have given him a race last time when falling at the last. Monalee could also close the gap on Death Duty over this 3-mile trip after they met over 2½ miles earlier in the season.
Win Bet: Death Duty @ 9/4 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Monalee @ 9/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 3 places
Cheltenham Gold Cup 3.30
- England have won 8, Ireland have won 2 of the last 3
- Winners were aged 6 to 9, including four 8-years-olds and four 9-year-olds
- SPs ranged from 5/4 to 20/1, but 9 winners were returned 8/1 or less
- Runners last ran 33 to 104 days previously
- Paul Nicholls trained 3 winners
- Ruby Walsh has trained 2 winners
- 8 winners won last time out
The top-rated Cue Card could have easily had his name on the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year, as he was cruising when falling three fences from home. However, whilst he won last time out, he would be the first 11-year-old to win for over 50-years. His highly-progressive stablemate Native River has a much more typical profile of a Gold Cup winner, and his stamina is assured after wins in the Hennessey and the Welsh National. The other young improver is Sizing John, and he’s gone from strength to strength as he’s stepped up from 2-miles to 3-miles, winning the Irish Gold Cup last time. His stamina isn’t proven for the extra 2½ furlongs, but connections think he’ll stay. Meanwhile Dkakadam, whose finished second in the 2015 and 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cups, will be many punters’ idea of an each-way banker with a great chance of going one better. However, the best each-way value may be Minella Rocca, whose form was only average before he beat Native River in last year’s National Hunt Chase, and he could be staying-on as others falter up the hill.
Win Bet: Sizing John @ 7/1 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Minella Rocca @ 18/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 3 places
The Foxhunters 4.10
- Ireland have won the last 5 renewals
- On The Fringe Bids for a hat-trick
- Winners have been aged 7 to 11
- Winners last ran 21 to 234 days previously
- SPs have ranged from 13/8 to 33/1
On The Fringe has to prove he’s as good as he was last year as a 12-year-old but, if he is, then he’ll take some stopping in his hat-trick bid with Jamie Codd taking over the reins from the pregnant Nina Carberry. Fellow 12-year-old Salsify also has another chance to win this for a third time after victories in 2012 and 2013, though his form hasn’t been as good since those victories. Other interesting Irish Runners include Aupcharlie and Grand Jesture with the latter, having finished second in the 2015 Ultima Chase off a mark of 143, potentially very interesting. The English challenge is headed by the high-class Wonderful Charm, though the ground may not be quick enough for him. Therefore, the most interesting English runner could be Black Thunder, as Sam Waley Cohen looks to have chosen to ride him over the twice previously placed Paint The Clouds.
Win Bet: On The Fringe @ 7/4 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Black Thunder @ 33/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 3 places
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle 4.40
- England have won 5 renewals, Ireland 3
- Willie Mullins has trained 3 winners
- Paul Nicholls has trained two winners
- Winners ran 22 to 52 days previously
- SPs ranged from 9/2 to 25/1
- Winner carried 11-5 to 11-10
- Winners were rated 133 to 143
- Winners have been aged 5 or 6
Willie Mullins has an outstanding recent record in this, and he saddles two formerly useful bumper horses in Battleford and Castello Sforza. Both are potentially well-handicapped after disappointing over hurdles so far, but it would be no surprise if both take a step forward here. Gordon Elliott also saddles an interesting runner in Runfordave who bolted-up last time. Coo Star Sivola also blotted-up last time in an easier trace, but Lizzie Kelly will be hopeful of getting a good tune out of this course and distance winner. Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls relies on Tommy Silver who look sure to be suited by a step-up in trip, though he may have preferred quicker ground. Therefore, it may be worth chancing an each-way bet on Protek Des Flos, who looks to have a good race in him off this mark, and this test should bring out the best in him, whilst Battleford also looks worth backing each-way.
Each-Way Bet: Protek Des Flos @ 25/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 5 places
Each-Way Bet: Battleford @ 8/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 5 places
Grand Annual Handicap Chase
- England have won 7 renewals, Ireland 3
- Paul Nicholls has trained 2 winners
- Davy Russell has ridden 2 winners
- SPs have ranged from 3/1 to 40/1
- Winners ran 26 to 104 days subsequently
- Winners were rated 129 to 147
- Winners were aged 6 to 10
- Winners carried between 10-0 and 11-6
England have the best record in the festival’s final race, and dual winning trainer Paul Nicholls saddles the novice La Prezien, who has potential off a mark of 146 on his form with the likes of Top Notch. He also saddles Dodging Bullets off a mark of 151, and he could make mincemeat of these if returning to anything like the form that saw him win the 2015 Champion Chase. Sizing Platinum is also not without a chance on his course and distance second earlier in the season. However, such has been the dominance of Irish Trained winners this year, Ireland are taken to win this with Dandridge. He was unlucky last year, and looks to have been primed to put that right with Davy Russell in the saddle, who has ridden 2 of the last 3 Irish winners.
Win Bet: Dandridge @ 8/1 (Bet365)
Each-Way Value: Sizing Platinum @ 20/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 4 places