Hi guys, results were a little better on Day 3 with a 15/2 winner but three second place finishers again and Galopin Des Champ falling at the last, when looking sure to win, pretty much tells the story of the week. Besides this, all three of my best bets or Naps have finished 2nd so it could have been a very different week if they had managed to win instead and if 12/1 shot Farouk D’Alene hadn’t slid out at the second last when looking sure to go close. However, that’s horse racing for you and all you can do is take it on the chin, move on, and hope for a change in our fortunes on this the last day of the Festival.

1.30pm Cheltenham – 2m1f (2m179y) (New) JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo)

VAUBAN

1 POINT WIN BET ADVISED AT 15/8 WITH THE FOLLOWING FIRMS

KNIGHT SALUTE

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 18/1 WITH THE FOLLOWING FIRMS PAYING 4 PLACES

The two at the head of the market in this 12-runner Grade 1 Triumph hurdle are Vauban (15/8) & Pied Piper (100/30) with the latter having beat Vauban when the two met at Punchestown back in December. However, on that occasion Vauban’s jockey said, “his mount received interference all the way down the straight” which, having watched the race back, he clearly was hampered by Pied Piper and was coming back at him all the way to the line over 1m7.5f. If the race had been over today’s 2m1f he would likely have got back up. They also pulled 15.5 lengths clear of the 3rd HMS Seahorse who finished a very good 3.5 lengths 4th of 21 in the Boodles the other day so the form looks strong.

Vauban looks like he has since improved past Pied Piper having comfortably and impressively beaten the re-opposing Fil Dor (15/2), Il Etait Temps (12/1), & Icare Allen (16/1) in to a 3 lengths 2nd,  a 5.75 lengths 3rd,  & a 9.5 lengths 5th at Leopardstown 6 weeks ago. I see no reason why any of those should reverse the form here but you have to remember they are 4 year olds who have only been raced a few times and could improve by as much as 20lb from their last start so it’s not impossible. Icare Allen could be value at 16/1 as I think different tactics could see him get closer here. I was closely considering Il Etait Temps because he was the eye-catcher in the race staying on well from the back with further improvement highly likely from Mullins’ 4 year old French import as he was coming off a 261-day break but it came out of the Cheltenham preview night in Dublin last Thursday that the gelding isn’t rated by Willie’s right hand man David Casey, who is an excellent judge.

It was officially Soft at Cheltenham yesterday but the times weren’t particularly slow so the ground might not be as bad as everyone thinks and could even be riding on the Soft side of Good today with drying conditions at the track since the rain on Wednesday afternoon. This will go against Porticello (14/1) who definitely wants easier underfoot conditions than he might be facing today.

That leaves Knight Salute (18/1), Doctor Parnassus (22/1), & Teddy Blue (33/1) with three at bigger prices with little chance IMO. Off the 3 named, I think they all have the potential to go well/place with Doctor Parnassus winning his first two hurdles starts by 9 & 10 lengths and open to improvement but having 20lb to find on Racing Post ratings with Vauban while Teddy Blue was upsides Knight Salute before ploughing through the last at Kempton 20 days ago. He could go well with a clear round but the more solid option is Knight Salute who is unbeaten in his first 5 hurdles starts, including two Grade 2 wins, and he just keeps finding when asked. He rates a fair each way bet at 20/1 with several firms paying 4 places.

However, after that thorough look at all the runners in the race, Vauban has to be my selection for the win so the advice is a 1 point win bet (or £10 for example if that is your usual stake) on him with 0.5 points each way on  Knight Salute who is perhaps a bit over-priced at 18’s.

2.10pm Cheltenham2m1f (2m179y) (New) McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

BROOMFIELD BURG

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 16/1 WITH THE FOLLOWING FIRMS PAYING 7 OR 8 PLACES

I LIKE TO MOVE IT

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 16/1 WITH THE FOLLOWING FIRMS PAYING 7 OR 8 PLACES

The Favourite, State Man (3/1), for the Willie Mullins camp comes under the “could be anything” category having only run three times winning very easily last time out by 12 lengths with the 2nd placed horse having ran well twice since. He is shortening all the time and could easily be another winner for the Mullins camp but at 3/1 we shouldn’t really be backing him in a 26-runner race around Cheltenham where even the best of them usually need some luck in running to come out on top.

So, at bigger each way prices with several firms offering 7 places and Skybet paying 8, I have opted for Broomfield Burg (16/1) with the Nicky Henderson yard having hit top form this week. This up-and-coming 6 year old will be fit on his fifth start since November, has C&D form having finished a half-length 2nd of 12 here back in December, the drying conditions over the past couple of days will have been in his favour, and John Joe O’Neill Junior is a good first-time booking.

My other each way shout is I like To Move It (12/1 with BET365) who will be fit having his sixth start since October and won twice round the “old” course here towards the end of last year. He will have been helped by the drying conditions at the track over the past couple of days and I think his mark of 142 surely under-estimates him. It would be a surprise to see him finish outside the top 7 or 8, barring mishaps, with the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard in fine form (Last 14 days: 6-24, 25%) and he too could go close.

2.50pm Cheltenham3m (2m7f213y) (New) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)

HILLCREST (NAP)

2 PTS WIN BET ADVISED AT A WIDELY AVAILABLE 5/2

My Nap today is Hillcrest (11/4) for the bang in form Henry Daly yard (Last 14 days: 4-9, 44%) who has been highly progressive in his five starts this season winning impressively by 8 lengths last time while setting the fastest finishing split on the card for the day. He is a big scopey relentless galloper who would appear to have all the attributes required to win an Albert Bartlett and he is still unexposed over this 3-mile trip so there should be plenty more to come. I’ve Napped him because I can’t see him being beat barring poor luck in running.

I’m not “officially” putting up an each way selection in this against my Nap but Ballygrifincottage (33/1) is a Dan Skelton 7 year old who has a nice profile for the race so he might be the one for those of you looking something at a bigger price with several firms paying the first 5 home. He is unexposed with surely further improvement to come.

3.30pm Cheltenham3m2½f (3m2f70y) (New) Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

TORNADO FLYER

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 12/1 WITH THESE FIRMS PAYING 4 OR 5 PLACES

AL BOUM PHOTO

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 12/1 WITH THESE FIRMS PAYING 4 OR 5 PLACES

The Gold Cup looks very open to me this year but at the head of the market I expect A Plus Tard not to be far away having had a good prep and only going down in the race last year by 1.25 lengths to the re-opposing Minella Indo (6/1) who simply doesn’t look in the same form this time round. However, it also looks a decent race for each way punters like ourselves with several firms paying the first 4 places and Skybet offering 5 places so I’ve sided with Willie Mullins Tornado Flyer (12/1) who comes here in top form having won the King George VI by 9 lengths at Kempton over the Christmas period. On that occasion, he hit the line strongly over 3-miles and on better ground here he should stay the 3m2f. I’ve also gone with the forgotten horse in the race, Al Boum Photo, who won it in 2019 & 2020 and finished 3rd in it last year. He looks over-priced at 12/1 and could surely be in the top 4 or 5 for each way purposes with first-time cheek-pieces a possible source of improvement.

These aren’t confident winning selections but I do believe both have excellent each way chances.

4.10pm Cheltenham3m2½f (3m2f70y) (New) St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 2) (5yo+)

COUSIN PASCAL

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 10/1 WITH THESE FIRMS PAYING 5 PLACES

The Favourite, Billaway (2/1), is trying to wind this race for the third year in a row having finished 2nd in it the past two years and he has a Favourite’s chance but offers little value at his 2/1 price and certainly not for each way bettors when several firms are paying the first 5 places.

So, I have gone for Cousin Pascal (11/1) who is the only horse I really like at an each way price. He has improved dramatically over the past year winning the Foxhunters at Aintree last April and he beat the re-opposing Bob And Co (13/2) by a comfortable 2 lengths at Haydock last month. He will be fit on his fifth start of the season, arrives in good form, and wouldn’t be a surprise winner.

4.50pm Cheltenham2m4½f (2m4f127y) (New) Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Registered As The Liberthine Mares’ Chase) (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

ZAMBELLA

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 10/1 WITH SKYBET PAYING 4 PLACES

This Mares’ Chase isn’t a great betting medium with the two at the head of the market the right two on form & ratings in the form of Irish raiders trained by Gordon Elliott & Willie Mullins of Mount Ida (2/1) & Elimay (9/4). The winner is highly likely to come from one of them but they are seriously difficult to split with Mount Ida having beaten Elimay by half a length at Fairyhouse back in January but the latter made a costly mistake that day and may reverse the form with Mount Ida preferring a right-handed track. It really is too close to call and is anybody’s guess as to which one will prevail.

However, I’ve noticed Skybet are the only firm paying the first 4 places in the race provided no more of the remaining 8-runners in the field are taken out. This looks a decent offer and Zambella may be able to take advantage of it at the each way price of 10/1 with them, as I write this, by running in to 3rd or 4th. Can Zambella win? Yes, being fully-fit on her sixth start of the season and having won last time out by 28 lengths but she has 7-10lb to find on ratings with the top two so she will either have to improve or they will have to falter. She can go well with the Nigel Twiston-Davies string in fine order (Last 14 days: 6-24, 25%) but a place looks much more likely with the three outsiders probably not good enough and her better than the Twiston-Davies’ other runner, Vienna Court, in my opinion.

5.30pm Cheltenham2m4½f (2m4f56y) (New) Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145)

FREEDOM TO DREAM

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 20/1 WITH MANY FIRMS PAYING 6 PLACES

QUINTO DO MAR

0.5 PTS EACH WAY BET ADVISED AT 50/1 WITH THESE FIRMS PAYING 5 PLACES

The 24-runner Martin Pipe is the final race of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival and if punters haven’t made a few quid by the time it jumps off then they are going to need a little luck to make it now!

There are several bookies paying 6 places in the race so I have gone with a couple at fairly big prices in the form of Freedom To Dream (20/1) & Quinto Do Mar (50/1). The first of them is an Irish raider who drops from a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in to this Class 2 handicap off a very workable looking mark of 135. He’s young, progressive, fit, and his trainer (Peter Fahy) holds him in very high regard. The trip/ground look fine and I think he could run a big one.

My other pick is Ben Pauling’s 7 year old gelding Quinto Do Mar who has already won twice this season, will have been helped by the drying conditions at the track, is fit, and also looks on a nice weight. He can hopefully outrun his massive odds.

That’s it for this year at the Cheltenham Festival. Good luck with all your bets and let’s hope we have a great last day guys!

Just a reminder that while I suggest bookies to bet with because they have the best price available or are offering to pay extra places in a race these are purely profit optimising common sense choices for your benefit and I receive absolutely nothing from them. I am not affiliated with any bookmakers!

Jibber Jabber

P.S. You can see my Cheltenham Festival results for all 84 races in 2019, 2020, & 2021 here

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