13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle
It’s been one hell of a week so far, with all the highs and lows that you expect from Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins will be hoping for a big day on Friday, and he’s got some team of horses going into the first race – including the first four in the betting.
It’s going to be a watching brief for me as each of his runners have great credentials and have all impressed me in some way this season. Paul Townend had the choice of all the runners, and he’s chosen the filly Lossiemouth , which could be telling.
14:10 Country Hurdle
Dan Skelton has a great record in the County Hurdle so it’s no surprise to see PEMBROKE near the head of the market. He’s a really strong traveller who will be suited by the pace in this race. He was outstayed here last time but comes back in trip now. He’ll love this test.
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
It looks a high-class Albert Bartlett and I think you’ll find plenty of winners of this race go on to future success.
Corbett’s Cross was a good winner at Naas last time and will need every yard of this trip now, but he’s had a few runs this season and needs to find plenty more improvement.
There are a few others that will run well at bigger prices, including EMBASSY GARDENS . They must have always had this race in mind for him.
Davy Russell rides Search For Glory for Gordon [Elliott] and I’d say that the fact he’s a maiden over hurdles won’t matter too much. He’s got plenty of experience and seems to be improving. Don’t forget Minella Indo won this race as a maiden a few years back!
15:30 Gold Cup
You can’t not have been impressed with everything Galopin Des Champs has done since winning on this day two years ago, but there is a question mark about his stamina in this race.
He’s clearly so talented, but they were hacking in the Irish Gold Cup and I don’t think that truly proved that he’ll stay this far around this track. While he might have the most class, he’s not bomb-proof.
Given Henry [De Bromhead] has his horses in such good form again, you can’t rule out last year’s winner A PLUS TARD running another cracker. He’s not had the best of runs into this – and it would be some performance from Henry if he were to win – but he’s very good and, if he’s on song, we know he’ll stay.
It wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see Minella Indo – who comes alive at Cheltenham – run another big race or sneak into the placings.
16:10 Hunters’ Chase
I don’t really have a huge opinion on the Hunters’ but, like most, I’d love to see Vaucelet win for David Christie. He’s been in grand form and Barry O’Neill was just touched off in the Kim Muir, so it would also be great to see him get his Cheltenham Festival victory, too.
16:50 Mares’ Chase
While I think she might have the biggest engine, I’d rather be against Allegorie De Vassy, who’s jumping just hasn’t impressed me.
The same can’t be said for IMPERVIOUS . She’s been super this season and looks an ideal type for this race.
I think Magic Daze will also run very well.
17:30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
I’ve been very impressed with IROKO this season since he joined Olly Greenall and Josh Guerriero.
He’s dotted up on both of his runs and has looked well ahead of the handicapper. They’ve kept him for the boys’ race and have booked Aidan Kelly for the ride. He’s been having a great season over in Ireland and it looks like he’ll have a great spin on a horse who will travel very well.
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