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Category: National Hunt Racing (Page 1 of 14)

Aintree 2022 – Friday

Here are my selections for Friday at Aintree

13:45 Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3

21 Mackenberg (28/1 e/w)

14:20 Top Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1

3 El Fabiolo (4/1); Aucunrisque (12/1 e/w)

14:55 Mildmay Novices’ Chase – Grade 1

4 L’homme Presse (5/4 jf)

15:30 Marsh (Melling) Chase – Grade 1

4 Fakir D’oudairies (5/4)

16:05 Topham Chase (National Course) – Grade 3

1 Royal Rendezvous (10/1); 7 Killer Clown (18/1 e/w)

16:40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1

8 Gelino Bello (9/2)

17:15 Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle – Class 2

9 Washington (11/2)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Friday

It was a mixed day yesterday with Galopin all but winning the first and now favourite for next year’s Gold Cup. Alaphilippe ran really well in the Pertemps and Allaho was again dominant in the Ryanair. Paisley Park was out with the washing and did amazingly well to come in third in the Stayers’ Hurdle and my best result of the day was Love Envoi winning the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

I think that it’s going to be a favourites’ day in the early races today so I’ve added a few selections at longer odds in the hope of finding some value.

13:30 Triumph Hurdle

Vauban (15/8f); Il Etait Temps (11/1 e/w)

14:10 County Hurdle

State Man (7/2f); I Like To Move It (10/1 e/w)

14:50 Albert Bartlett

Hillcrest (9/4f); Minella Cocooner (9/1 e/w)

15:30 Gold Cup

Protektorat (11/1)

16:10 Hunters’ Chase

Pont Aven (9/1)

16:50 Mares’ Chase

Elimay (5/2)

17:30 Martin Pipe

Adamantly Chosen (6/1)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Thursday

A much better day on Wednesday with wins for Sir Gerhard, L’homme Presse and Energumene and a valiant valedictory second for Tiger Roll in the Cross Country.

Just the selections today, confirming those mentioned on Monday, but several now at much shorter odds.

13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase

Galopin Des Champs (5/6 from 11/10)

14:10 Pertemps Final

Alaphilippe (6/1)

14:50 Ryanair Chase

Allaho (4/6 from 4/7) nap

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park (17/2 from 7/1)

16:10 Plate

The Glancing Queen (7/2 from 7/1)

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Dinoblue (7/4 from 9/4); Love Envoi (13/2 from 12/1)

17:30 Kim Muir

School Boy Hours (5/1 from 7/1)

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022 – Wednesday

Wipeout! No winners at all on Tuesday but a great day’s racing nonetheless.

I liked this contribution:

Constitution Hill was a mighty winner of the Supreme and no doubt the performance of the day with a 22l record breaking defeat of a very good field. Honeysuckle proved that she really is a hurdling great and those two outstanding performances were my takeaways from the day. Onwards!

13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Dysart Dynamo wasn’t going to win the Supreme when falling but I think that Sir Gerhard (4/6) will get Willie Mullins off to a winning start on Wednesday, having closed the first day with his first win of the meeting with Stattler in the National Hunt Chase.

Selection: Sir Gerhard (4/6)

14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

I would love to see Ahoy Senor (6/1) follow up on Coragh Rambler’s win for Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox in the Ultima. Bravemansgame (11/4) is probably the best horse in the race but I’m not sure that Cheltenham will play to his strengths. On balance, and marginally, I’ve gone for L’homme Presse (a short enough 7/2) who is unbeaten this season and has course form.

Selection: L’homme Presse (7/2)

14:50 Coral Cup

It’s a wide open renewal as usual so I’ll stick with the two previously selected, who are now leading the market, in the shape of Saint Felicien (6/1) and Camprond (17/2), with a preference for the former.

Selection: Saint Felicien (6/1)

15:30 Champion Chase

With some trepidation after Nicky Henderson’s double on the first day and mainly for value I’m sticking with my selection, Energumene (7/2), to beat hot favourite Shishkin (10/11) and reverse the form after the Ascot race and with conditions suiting the favourite. A contrary view in the face of the available evidence but, why not, given that they are both very, very good horses and could maintain the rivalry for some time to come?

Selection: Energumene (7/2)

16:10 Cross Country

Well, in all likelihood, he’ll win it easily or bomb out. This is almost certainly Tiger Roll’s swansong and I’ll stick with him, notwithstanding his drift in the market.

Selection: Tiger Roll (7/4)

16:50 Grand Annual Chase

As previously posted, my shortlist was Embittered (11/1), Frero Banbou (14/1) and A Wave Of The Sea (25/1) and, without a great deal of reflection, I’ve opted for Frero Banbou for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch.

Selection: Frero Banbou (14/1)

17:30 Champion Bumper

The market for this has settled down a bit after the euphoria about Facile Vega (6/4). I think that there’s probably little between him and American Mike (11/4) so, primarily based on the prices, I’m sticking with the latter.

Selection: American Mike (11/4)

After the first day you could reasonably treat this is a list of ones to exclude but I remain optimistic for a profitable day. Good luck!

Cheltenham 2022: Tuesday

As usual in recent years, the going (on Sunday afternoon as I’m typing this) on the old course (used on Tuesday and Wednesday) is good to soft, soft in places. The Accuweather daily rain forecast is Monday 2%, Tuesday 25%, Wednesday 89%, Thursday 0%, Friday 0%.

Declarations were published on Sunday morning and there are no big surprises.

13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

As widely predicted, Sir Gerhard is routed to the Ballymore on Wednesday. There are five main players. Dysart Dynamo and Constitution Hill are current joint favourites at 9/4, Jonbon is 9/2, Kilcruit is 6/1 and Mighty Potter is 8/1.

Dysart Dynamo (164p) is unbeaten in four outings, two in bumpers and two over hurdles. He has form on soft, good to soft and heavy. He was mightily impressive last time out in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown on 16 January and looks like the most likely winner.

Constitution Hill (162P) is also unbeaten in two. He won the Grade 1 Tolworth on heavy ground at Sandown on 8 January (Shallwehaveonemore 4th). This is a very different challenge and there are question marks concerning the quality of his wins, albeit that they were visually impressive.

Jonbon (165p) is an expensive brother of Douvan and, like Dysart Dynamo, is unbeaten over four. All his form is on good to soft/soft. I suspect that this is a marking time season on the way to be an outstanding chaser.

Kilcruit (158p) was second to Sir Gerhard in last year’s Champion Bumper but his form this season has been not as good as many expected. Improved with a shorter distance and the application of a tongue strap last time out in a modest maiden hurdle, he would need to improve a lot to land this.

Mighty Potter (160p) was beaten by Statuaire and My Mate Mozzie in the Royal Bond, but redeemed himself with a far from fluent and novicey win in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. He would need to improve considerably from both runs and may well do so but this is a very high quality renewal and I can’t have him.

Selection: Dysart Dynamo

14:10 Arkle Novices’ Chase

The top three in this are all exposed: Edwardstone (5/2), Blue Lord (4/1) and Riviere D’etel (7/2). The one open to significant improvement and my selection is Haut En Couleurs (7/1). He was third in last year’s Triumph Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion 4-y-o and made a winning start over fences in a Beginners’ Chase at Leopardstown in December. He fell early on in the Irish Arkle but, ironically, I really like his jumping style and his 172p Timeform rating is good enough for this.

Edwardstone (177) has done nothing wrong and could well run out as an easy winner but the 7/1 available for Haut En Couleurs is very tempting.

Selection: Haut En Couleurs

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase

This is a very open race (currently 13/2 the field) and my idea of the winner is novice Does he Know (7/1). The presence of Frodon as top weight means that he carries 11st. He has good Cheltenham form and his best performance to date was last time out, winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on 19 February.

It would be great to see Frodon (12/1) win this but it’s a tall order off top weight (with a margin) in a handicap.

My idea of a lively outsider is Our Power at 14/1, another progressive novice who could provide former jockey Sam Thomas with his best training achievement to date.

Selection: Does He Know

Outsider: Our Power

15:30 Champion Hurdle

The easy and obvious choice is defending champion Honeysuckle (4/7), looking to extend her unbeaten record to 15. She’ll probably do it but there’s no value in the price. There are question marks over what she’s beaten and she was not so impressive, albeit winning last time out in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

I think that Appreciate It is a very special horse. Second to the sadly sidelined Ferny Hollow in the 2020 Champion Bumper and a 24l winner of last year’s Supreme Hurdle, I don’t think that Honeysuckle has ever met one as good as this. Of course the racecourse absence of 364 days since then is a major concern but if he’s back to his best then, at 4/1, he’s a great value choice.

Selection: Appreciate It

16:10 Mares’ Hurdle

This is trappy and good cases can be made for several of the leading contenders. Telmesomethinggirl (3/1) is probably the right favourite. Stormy Ireland (5/1) lost her way and spent an unproductive spell with Paul Nicholls before returning to Willie Mullins where she has done much better, including winning the Grade 2 Relkeel at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Burning Victory (8/1) won the 2020 Triumph Hurdle and was second in the Cesarewitch, before seeing off Queens Brook (9/2) in a Grade 3 at Punchestown on heavy last month. However, Queens Brook was given a lot to do and was closing on the winner and, like many, I prefer her to reverse the form.

Selection: Queens Brook

16:50 Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle

This is an intriguing race and could perhaps produce one of the easiest winners of the week. It’s all about the handicap, the favourite, Gaelic Warrior (9/4), and the hype. This horse has never run in the UK or Ireland and has only ever run at Auteuil where his form is 633, last time in the relatively minor Rocking Chair Hurdle in June 2021. Owner Rich Ricci has confessed that he’s never even seen the horse but the reports are that he’s very, very good and has been mentioned as a nap of the meeting at several previews. He hasn’t got a lot to beat here (including a number who are most likely in it to give the owners a runner at the Festival) and I’m going to take a chance.

Selection: Gaelic Warrior

17:30 National Hunt Novices’ Chase

Although the distance has been reduced to 3m 6f, this still requires a tried and tested thorough stayer and a top amateur jockey. I am inclined against the top two in the market, Run Wild Fred (Jamie Codd – 2/1) and Stattler (Patrick Mullins – 9/4), so I’m going with 2021 Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier (Derek O’Connor – 4/1). His season has been unspectacular but I listened to an interview this morning with his trainer Gavin Cromwell who thinks that he’s got him right and I think that the extra distance will suit him down to the ground.

Selection: Vanillier

We don’t yet have the declarations for the remaining days and much depends on which horses end up in which races but I’ve set out below my current selections and intend to update them during the week.

Wednesday

13:30 Ballymore

Sir Gerhard (4/5)

14:10 Brown Advisory

L’homme Presse (4/1); Ahoy Senor (5/1)

14:50 Coral Cup

Camprond (8/1 from 18/1); Saint Felicien (8/1)

15:30 Champion Chase

Energumene (7/2)

16:10 Cross Country

Tiger Roll (5/4)

16:50 Grand Annual

Embittered (7/1); A Wave of the Sea (16/1); Frero Banbou (12/1)

17:30 Champion Bumper

American Mike (9/4)

Thursday

13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase

Galopin Des Champs (11/10)

14:10 Pertemps Final

Alaphilippe (6/1)

14:50 Ryanair Chase

Allaho (4/7) nap

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park (7/1)

16:10 Plate

The Glancing Queen (7/1)

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Dinoblue (9/4); Love Envoi (12/1)

17:30 Kim Muir

School Boy Hours (7/1)

Friday

13:30 Triumph Hurdle

Vauban (13/8) n.b.

14:10 County Hurdle

State Man (4/1)

14:50 Albert Bartlett

Minella Cocooner (7/1)

15:30 Gold Cup

Protektorat (8/1)

16:10 Hunters’ Chase

Pont Aven (8/1)

16:50 Mares’ Chase

Elimay (2/1)

17:30 Martin Pipe

Good Risk At All (7/1)

Good luck!!

Great racing this weekend

We have some great National Hunt racing to look forward to over the next few days with the declarations ensuring that this an even better weekend than usual.

This is as much a reminder for me as anything so here goes:

Friday

Wetherby

14:05 Ahoy Senior (10/11) (one of the best horses Lucinda Russell has had for a while)

15:15 Porticello (11/8) (Gary Moore top prospect); Too Friendly (100/30); Sacre Pierre (6/1)

15:50 Magic Saint (9/2); Good Boy Bobby (11/4)

16:25 Larch Hill (9/2)

Uttoxeter

14:48 Flic Ou Voyou (9/4) (chasing debut for Nicholls)

Down Royal

13:10 Hollow Games (1/4) (a Ballymore prospect for G Elliott)

13:45 Party Central (13/8) (another top prospect for Eliott)

14:20 Zanahiyr (4/9) (leading Cheltenham candidate last season and potentially more to come – really should win this)

16:05 Arahecan (is the RP nap at 10/1)

16:35 The Mediator (5/6) (unraced for G Elliott)

Saturday

Down Royal

13:05 Fil Dor (debut for G Elliott – watch the market)

13:40 Mighty Potter (yet another interesting debutant for Elliott)

14:15 Charli Parcs (20/1) (not expecting anything from him (now with Aidan Howard) but may improve on 5th last time out). Hearts Are Trumps (22/1) is another who has lost his way but might just run into a place.

14:50 I favour a fresh Frodon (9/2) over Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (evens) at this early stage in the season.

15:25 Envoi Allen (4/11) should win this easily.

Wetherby

13:20 Gericault Rouge (7/2) a likely improver

13:55 Molly Ollys Wishes (100/30) is a confident selection and could have an exciting season ahead.

14:20 Paisley Park (9/4); Thomas Darby (7/2); Master Tommytucker (5/1 and interesting over hurdles). Take your pick.

15:05 Cyrname (6/5) on a redemption mission; Shan Blue (5/1); Fusil Raffles (13/2) my selection

Ascot

14:10 Boothill (7/2) an unbeaten and potentially exciting prospect

14:45 Editeur Du Gite (100/30) won the Red Rum and was followed home by Sully D’oc AA (6/1). A forecast for a repeat?

15:20 Vinndication (3/1) one to watch

Sunday

We await the declarations but races of interest include:

Carlisle 14:00 Chantry House, Fiddlerontheroof, Sporting John

Cork 14:25 Beacon Edge, Bleu Berry, Diol Ker, Run Wild Fred

Cork 15:00 Eleazar Des Neiges, Agent Boru

Overall, we’ll know a lot more after the weekend but it’s worth bearing in mind that, in Ireland, the Down Royal meeting tends to be a benefit for Gordon Elliott, particularly for debutants or near-debutants and WP tends to avoid it. My most interesting candidates?

Ahoy Senior

Porticello

Flic Ou Voyou

Hollow Games

Frodon

Envoi Allen

Molly Ollys Wishes

Fusil Raffles

Boothill

Chantry House

What a treat in prospect! Just for fun, a 9 fold on the Friday and Saturday selections would deliver a 10,000/1 return. Yes, of course I’ve done it! Much better odds than the Lottery.

I’ve also done:

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Flic Ou Voyou, Hollow Games, Frodon, Envoi Allen and Fusil Raffles accumulator at 679/1

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Hollow Games, Frodon, Envoi Allen and Fusil Raffles accumulator at 226/1

Ahoy Senior, Porticello, Frodon and Envoi Allen as a Lucky 15 for a potential return of £117.49.

Let’s hope that the first two at Wetherby on Friday deliver.

Good luck!

Chepstow 8 October

The Chepstow October meeting is, for me, the proper start of new National Hunt season and this year’s renewal is perhaps one of the best yet.

13:00 Novices’ Hurdle 2m 11y

We get off to a great start with a Class 4 novices’ hurdle but featuring unbeaten Knappers Hill making his hurdles debut after an impressive win in the Aintree Grade 2 bumper. Unsurprisingly a 1/5 shot.

13:35 Novices’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f

A four runner Class 2 novices’ chase and another potential star, this time in the shape of Threeunderthrufive (6/4) who, as the Racing Post verdict says, “is a very exciting prospect for the season ahead”.

So, we have a winning double before race three (I love the early season).

14:10 Veterans’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f

Some great names here – Geordie Des Champs, Potters Corner, Vieux Lion Rouge, Double Shuffle and Dancing Shadow. Not a strong view here but I’m just inclined towards Geordie Des Champs (9/2) to make it a three timer after a break of 113 days.

14:45 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f

The first Grade 2 of the season and, generally, a good marker for what lies in store. It’s a Nicholls Henderson head to head on the face of it with Paso Doble and First Street but I’m going with Coeur Serein to make it four wins in a row at 5/1 for Jonjo O’Neill (senior and junior). I may also hazard a minor place bet on Hidden Heroics (14/1), a Fairyhouse point to point winner on his only previous outing, bought for £60,000 and could be anything.

15:20 Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 4-y-o Hurdle 2m 11y

I don’t normally add the sponsor’s name to these previews but had to give credit to the excellent Paul Ferguson who many of us know from various Liverpool haunts (generally Dominic and Fiona’s). It’s great to see him recognised at this prelude meeting. That said, this is appropriately a very difficult race and I’m taking a chance with Hell Red (100/30), a promising horse who may have run with a lot more in store when 9th in the Boodles’ at the Cheltenham Festival and subsequently won well in a Class 4 at Newton Abbot last April.

15:55 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f

Nina The Terrier (13/8) should win this with something in hand.

16:25 Conditionals’ Handicap Chase 2m 7 1/2f

A total lottery. Best avoided.

Good luck!

Aintree 2021 – Grand National Day

13:45 Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3 – 3m 149y

This is a wide open hurdle but there is a lot to like about the current favourite, Come On Teddy* (15/2) who won a 3m Cheltenham handicap hurdle last December and was an excellent 3rd in the Pertemps Final. I also like Polish (9/1) for a place.

14:20 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f

The first Grade 1 of the day and I’m very keen on My Drogo*** (2/1) who I’ve followed all season and is unbeaten over hurdles. Distance, ground and course should all suit and he’s a confident selection.

15:00 Maghull Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 1m 7f

Shishkin***** (1/6) is the British star of the season and is impossible to oppose. He’s Timeform’s highest rated novice chaser (188P) and this is just another step on the road to greatness. He’s currently 6/4 for next year’s Champion Chase which, even with 339 days to go, still looks like good value.

15:35 Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 3m 149y

The horses at the top of the market often turn up against each other and this season it’s one all between Thyme Hill** (9/4) and Paisley Park. The latter hasn’t been entirely convincing this season. Both course and ground should suit Thyme Hill better. Roksana was a decent second to If The Cap Fits in this race in 2019 and was third in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. 10/1 bar the top three looks about right.

16:15 Handicap Chase – Grade 3 – 3m 210y

This isn’t the strongest of races and could easily go to a long odds shot. Happygolucky was second to Vintage Clouds in this year’s Ultima Chase but was a beaten 100/30 favourite.

Top Notch* (8/1) is no longer…top notch, but may still yet be good enough to win this. A 10-y-o, he was third in the Paddy Power Plate (behind The Shunter and Farclas). Although allocated top weight of 11st 12lb, claimer Luca Morgan (who rode him last time) takes off 7lb and both ground and course should suit.

17:15 Grand National – Grade 3 – 4m 2f 74y

Cloth Cap is the right favourite but has drifted slightly in the market. He’s still too short a price for me.

The National always has a story and this year I think that it will be the first woman rider to win the race with Rachael Blackmore riding Minella Times** (10/1) for Henry de Bromhead. He has great form, particularly with Rachael on board and is easily good enough to win if he stays. He’s never run beyond 3m and most form is on soft or heavy but he’s a top class 8-y-o with an attractive weight of 10st 3lbs

Any Second Now is another for J P McManus and Ted Walsh has prepped him with this in mind and he knows how to win the race.

Another JP horse, Anibale Fly, was fourth and fifth in the last two Nationals and could easily run into a pace at an appealing 28/1. Another place prospect is Mister Malarky at 33/1).

18:20 Weatherbys Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m 209y

The meeting rounds off with this bumper in which the Nicky Henderson trained Balco Coastal* is the justified favourite at 15/8 based on his very impressive last outing at Kempton.

Good luck!

Aintree 2021 – Friday

It’s a busy evening so just the selections for tomorrow.

13:45 Pertemps Hurdle – Grade 3 – 2m 4f

A predictable wide open race and I’ll just about side with Wilde About Oscar* (17/2).

14:20 Top Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 103y

I’m willing to take another (or is it third?) chance with Third Time Lucki* (7/2).

14:50 Mildmay Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 3m 210y

Chantry House*** (7/4) should be well suited by the step up in trip to 3m after an impressive win in the Marsh at Cheltenham.

15:25 Melling Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 3f 200y

I’m hoping that Fakir D’oudairies*** (3/1) will do one better after following home the imperious Allaho in the Ryanair.

16:05 Topham Chase – Grade 3- 2m 5f 19y (National course)

Visioman** (8/1) has long been targeted for this although he is facing tough opposition. The top combination of Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead will hopefully add this to their impressive tally.

16:40 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 3m 149y

Bravemansgame should win this after a decent third in the Ballymore but I’m siding with the fifth in the Albert Bartlett, Alaphilippe* at a very attractive 18/1 (e/w).

17:15 Pinsent Masons Conditionals’ and Amateurs’ Hurdle – 2m 103y

A bit of a lottery as usual and I’ll watch out for any market movers. However, for now, I’m inclined towards Leoncavallo* (10/1) who was a decent sixth in the Martin Pipe, the equivalent race at Cheltenham and could well improve.

Good luck!

Cheltenham 2021 – Gold Cup Day

For all that it’s not been the most profitable week so far, I’ve really enjoyed this week’s Festival.

The obvious star is not a horse but a jockey, Rachael Blackmore. I can’t emphasise enough how much her success has been down to her tactical skill and judgement of pace, which have been peerless. She has rightly made the news headlines and is favourite to be the leading jockey at the Festival. As the BBC’s Frank Keogh (@honestfrank) pointed out, the current tally is Rachael Blackmore 5 Great Britain 4.

So, here’s the summary so far. Appreciate It got us off to a great start in the Supreme and that should not be forgotten for a horse that has great potential. The same can be said for the short priced favourite and imperious winner of the Arkle, Shishkin, who is current 6/4 favourite for the Champion Chase 2022. Vintage Clouds was a great 28/1 winner of the Ultima and I recommend listening to Harvey Smith about him on the Nick Luck podcast. As for Goshen, well, I’m just very sad for the connections. He’s very talented but, like many in so many different disciplines in life, perhaps unsuited to the one that he’s been given. I’m still not giving up but there are perhaps shades of Might Bite about him.

Bob Olinger was all that I hoped for in the Ballymore, while Monkfish showed what a good horse he is by being far from his best and still winning. Although I couldn’t have him in a month of Sundays, it was clear from early on that Tiger Roll would win the Cross Country and it seems that he may now be aimed for the Betway Bowl at Aintree on Thursday. On the same Nick Luck podcast (Wednesday) that I mentioned above, racing manager Eddie O’Leary said:

“He seemed to jump off with a big smile on his face and as the race went on, he seemed to get better and better.

“Without getting too mad about him, I don’t think there’s been too many like him. Before this race came along, he kind of chucked racing. It was an amazing training performance by Gordon to get him back, and an amazing training performance by all at Cullentra to get him there yesterday in that kind of shape.

“Because he is what he is there are no races for him, and because of the famous handicap mark he has, there are no opportunities to get it down. He doesn’t really run on (conventional) tracks.

“We’ve absolutely no regrets about taking him out of the National as his rating is just too high. We’re probably going to have to run him at a park track, we’re even considering the Betway Bowl at Aintree.

“The way the horse won yesterday, retirement is off the table – he’s loving life and while he is we’ll listen to him.

“He’ll probably go for the Bowl and unfortunately he’ll prove he’s not that (166 rated), unless he is and then he’ll prove us all completely wrong.

“The Tiger we saw yesterday, you’d have to give him 10 out of 10, which is a testament to all at Cullentra.”

I was gutted to see Kilcruit beaten by Sir Gerhard in the Bumper but they are both great horses in the making.

Envoi Allen‘s unexpected fall did for all my accas but credit to Richard Hoiles on ITV who commented before the off and in the early stages that he was fizzing and didn’t jump the first few too well.

The victory of Allaho in the Ryanair was largely down to a superb ride by Rachael and I was pleased to see that my selection Fakir D’oudairies ran into a creditable (albeit not profitable) second place.

I can’t remember who it was who tweeted that The Shunter‘s comments in running should have been “settled in in the early stages and responded to lots of money” when he (unusually) collected a £100,000 bonus for winning at Kelso on 6 March and following up at the Festival. All credit to the tweeter and to Emmet Mullins for a cracking result. I should also add a mention to Farclas in defeat for another excellent Festival performance.

So, on to Gold Cup day.

13:20 Triumph Hurdle (2m 179y)

Regular readers will know that I chose Zanahiyr (11/10) months ago and I see no reason to change now. Rather like the the Supreme, it’s an unusually small field and that will help. While not in my top 5 for the week, this is a confident selection.

13:55 County Hurdle (2m 179y)

I’ve been a follower of Buildmeupbuttercup (18/1) all season but the time has come to desert her in favour of Third Time Lucki (8/1) who has an ideal profile for this race. For loyalty rather than confidence I’ll also have a few quid on Ciel De Neige who has let me down a few times. but I have to see it through.

14:30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2m 7f 213y)

The potato race (these previews would be incomplete without me saying that!). I think that this is wide open and I still like Alaphilippe at 12/1 for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan. He has graded form and is rock hard with a guarantee to stay the distance.

15:05 Wellchild Gold Cup (3m 2f 70y)

My initial thought was to go with Champ (5/1). However, I was struck by Kevin Blake’s comment in a preview that he is a horse of “low intelligence”, particularly when it comes to fences, having a tendency to ignore or head butt them.

I understand that Al Boum Photo (3/1) is not a star, even though he is aiming for a three-time win in this race which would put him among the all-time greats. All the form suggests that he will do it again but I’m unconvinced.

Aso (125/1) will not stay.

A Plus Tard (100/30) will probably go off as favourite because of the Rachael Blackmore factor. He’s a leading candidate and Rachael could do it, given her superb riding to date but he’s not guaranteed to stay this trip.

Black Op (125/1) will be tailed off. Not up to this standard.

Frodon (12/1). Don’t discount him. Front running has been seen to work this week and the King George win shouldn’t be discounted. My choice for a longer odds win (12/1).

Kemboy (16/1) could run away with this but not for me because of dodgy jumping.

Lostintranslation (25/1) , politely, is not going to win this.

Minella Indo (8/1) was supposed to be the coming horse but I’m unconvinced. Could run very well but definitely not my choice.

Native River (14/1) doesn’t have the right ground and could be withdrawn.

Royalle Pagaille (14/1) was my choice for National Hunt Chase and I was gutted when he was withdrawn from that (at 2/1). I watched this horse (live on TV) when he first ran in the UK when beaten at Chepstow in a match behind Vision Des Flos and when he lost a shoe when beaten by Equus Secretus at Huntingdon. Since then he beat Espoir De Romay in a Class 2 at Haydock, Cap Du Nord and Double Shuffle impressively at Kempton and Potters Legend and Just Your Type in the Peter Marsh (Grade 2) at Haydock on 23 January. He’s a 7-y-o and I think that his time will come, starting with a place in this race.

15:40 Hunters’ Chase

Well, this is an oddity because it is the amateurs’ Gold Cup but amateurs are not allowed to take part.

The Hunters’ calendar has been a bit of a mess this year so we should look for the outright best horse. There is a good case for looking for an Irish horse but I’m going with Bob And Co (9/2) for Paul Nicholls and with the excellent Sean Bowen on board.

16:15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (2m 4f 127y)

I don’t know why Elimay isn’t 1/2 (currently 4/5). The only other challenger is Shattered Love (7/1).

16:50 Martin Pipe Conditionals’ Handicap Hurdle (2m 4f 56y)

Normally a random choice But Gentleman Du Mee (3/1) has attracted a lot of support in recent weeks. Langer Dan (13/2) has made it in for the bonus after winning the Grade 3 Imperial Cup last Saturday and could follow The Shunter in this regard. However, I’m with Frontal Assault (12/1) for Denise “Sneezy” Foster, “((former) trainer said, regarding improvement in form, gelding was tried in blinkers on his most recent run which seemed to make him too keen)” !! I’ll leave you to draw you own conclusion!

Good luck!

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