Friday 17th March 2023
Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)
A big welcome to my blog for the concluding day of the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, it’s the 1:30 where we kick things off again which is the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle that’s ridden over two miles and a furlong on the new course. Willie Mullins seemingly holds the key here as he dominates the top of the betting and I think he can take the race again with Lossiemouth at 7/4 who’s the mount of Paul Townend. Sporting the famous Ricci silks that saw success in the race last year with Vauban, she’s looked very impressive so far in her career at Closutton, even in defeat last time at the Dubin Racing Festival. Everything went wrong for her that day, yet she still ran all the way to the line to finish second. Prior to that, she’s bolted up in two graded contests, winning by a combined total of eleven and a half lengths which is the form she should be judged on. I think she has a huge chance here and could prove a very tough nut to crack.
Next up it’s the 2:10 which is the County Hurdle, a handicap that’s ridden over two miles and a furlong on the new course. I like the chances of two horses here and both are trained by that man again Willie Mullins. The first of these comes in the form of Hunters Yarn at 11/2 who’s the mount of Paul Townend, and seemingly the first string from the yard. Some fancied him for the Supreme after his impressive display last time when bolting up by six lengths in a listed novice event. The yard won the race last year with State Man, and he may not be quite as good as him but I think he could well prove to be better than a handicapper, as his stablemate has. The other Mullins runner I like here is Sharjah at 8/1 who’s set to be ridden by Patrick Mullins. He’s been a fine servant for the yard over the years, winning multiple Grade 1s, and will be a big player back within handicap company off top weight. He fits a similar profile to Arctic Fire who also won this race for the yard several years ago.
The 2:50 is next which is the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle that’s ridden over a distance of three miles. This is one of the most competitive Grade 1s of the week, and I think that it can go to Three Card Brag at 4/1 for Gordon Elliott and Adrian Heskin. He was just a neck behind Inthepocket in a Grade 2 on his penultimate outing at Naas in December, and then followed up with a dominant display on his most recent run when he bolted up by twelve lengths at Fairyhouse. I think he’s got a considerable amount of progression yet to come, and the soft ground will be very much up his street. He arrives here with a very solid chance.
It’s now time for the 3:30 which is the feature race of the entire meeting, which is of course the Boodles Gold Cup over three miles and two and a half furlongs. I’ve had two punts in this year’s renewal of the prestigious event, the first of which comes in the form of Galopin Des Champs at 2/1 who’s my NAP of the day as I find it very hard to oppose him. He had the Turners at his mercy at last year’s festival before falling at the last, however, he hasn’t looked back since, winning three successive Grade 1s by a combined total of 31 lengths. His most recent success came at the Dublin Racing Festival where he won the Irish Gold Cup and he gave the impression that the further he went the better he could be. If his jumping holds up, he’s the one that they all have to beat. My other fancy is an each-way alternative to the jolly and that’s Stattler who’s currently trading at 14/1 for Willie Mullins and Patrick Mullins. He’s probably got a bit to find on some of the market principals, but he’s a very smart animal in his own right which he showcased when winning the National Hunt Chase at last year’s festival. He’s all about stamina and if this becomes a real test, he’ll be well at home.
Moving onto the 4:10 now which is the Hunters’ Chase that’s contested over three miles and two and a half furlongs. I think this year’s renewal of the race can go to Vaucelet at 11/4 for the Christie yard who narrowly missed out on last year’s race with Winged Leader. He’s somewhat of a winning machine within this sphere, and arrives here having won five of his last six outings, finishing second on the other occasion. He’s been kept fresh for this since winning at Down Royal on Boxing Day, and if he gets a clear round of jumping he should prove very tough to beat.
The 4:50 is the penultimate race of The Festival which is the recently added Mares Chase that’s contested over two miles and four furlongs and is a Grade 2 event. Willie Mullins has had a great deal of success with Mares races at Cheltenham and I think he can win another one here with Allegorie De Vassy at 7/4 who’s the mount of Paul Townend. Her jumping has left a bit to be desired since she’s gone over fences, however, she’s clearly a horse with bundles of ability as she’s won back-to-back Grade 2 events coming into this particular assignment. This will be her toughest test to date as she’s unproven on the track and has a very smart rival in Impervious to get the better of, but I think she’ll up for the challenge and put on a very bold showing.
The 5:30 brings the curtain down on this year’s Cheltenham Festival and it’s the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle for conditional jockeys. The race is always fiercely competitive with this year’s renewal being no exception, after compiling a small shortlist of fancies for the race I’ve come down on Iroko at 8/1 for Aidan Kelly and Olive Greenall & Josh Guerriero. He’s really progressed this season with his two outings, of which both came at Wetherby, winning on both occasions with the most recent success being a fourteen-length victory back in January. I think that there could well be yet more progression to come from him, and whilst he’ll need to step up again to be competitive in this I think he could do just that. He’s a decent price here and if handling the track he’s got every chance of playing a meaningful role.
Image credit: horseracingphoto.co.uk