Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day Four Preview : A look at Gold Cup day at Cheltenham
Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day Four Preview
The fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival takes place on Friday 13th March. This is where we find the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the feature race on day four and the highlight of the meeting, and of the entire national hunt season. It could be argued that the supporting cast for this day is slightly lower in quality than the first three days, but all that ensures that the Gold Cup takes centre stage.
Away from the feature race, the card has another six races on it, with three tough looking handicaps, the Foxhunters for amateurs, and two novice hurdle races that are traditionally tough to solve. This is not an easy end to proceedings for punters, anyone who has more than a single winner on this day is doing very well.
We take a look at the final day of the Cheltenham Festival here, and have already covered the other three days elsewhere, you can read them using the links below.
For those looking for general advice ahead of the full meeting, we have a dedicated Cheltenham page that is full of the latest news, betting tips, advice on how to tackle the meeting and much more. We also have a page that looks at the final day of the meeting and the history behind it. We have listed all the winners from last season here, valuable information and certainly worth a quick glance, you can find it here.
Triumph Hurdle - 1.50
In the space of just a few days, Solo has transformed from a horse that has never ran in the UK to being the highest rated juvenile hurdler in the country. All done with just one run under his belt, a Grade Two win at Kempton recently. The juvenile division is always hard to work out, with horses showing their form early in the season and taking a break before Cheltenham while we often see late comers to the party, just like Solo.
Trainer Paul Nicholls was full of praise for his horse, saying that he has a fantastic temperament and has settled into life at his yard brilliantly since the move from France. He doesn't think he is a hurdler, and that he will be better over fences in years to come but you cannot argue with the manner of his first run and win in this country. He pulled away from a decent field to win by 12 lengths eased down, and if that is a sign of what is to come then this horse certainly has a bright future.
On just his second start over in the UK it is no easy task going to Cheltenham, but he does have plenty of experience from his time in France which will help. We will take the chance with that, and select Solo as our tip in the opening race on the card on Friday.
County Hurdle - 2.30
One of the under rated strengths of trainer Willie Mullins is his ability to drop his graded runners into handicaps, carry a large weight and get them to win and that is exactly what could happen with a horse of his in the County Hurdle. The race is a minefield, with a huge number of runners set to go to post and many of them going there with chances to win. Expected to be up near the top of the weights is Aramon, a horse that has been running in graded events for his career. It is fair to say he falls just short of being able to compete in those, and is always seen as an outsider in them.
However, this drop in class could be what he needs to get him back in the winners enclosure. He should relish the strong trip and uphill finish here too, which will help him get to those in front, and off that pace he could well pose a serious threat.
The Mullins trained Ciel De Neige is currently favourite for the race and ran really well a few weeks ago in a big field handicap like this, so is worthy of consideration. However, it is Aramon that keeps catching the eye, a similar type to what Mullins has done well with in the past and it would be no surprise to see this horse go close at a massive price.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle - 2.50
This is going to be a real stamina test for these youngsters. Three miles is bad enough but when it is on testing ground, a course that has been used for three days and with an uphill finish, it takes things to a whole new level. One horse in the field that has come up the Cheltenham hill in testing ground before and won is Harry Senior, who made a really nice impression on Trials Day.
The Colin Tizzard youngster looks the ideal horse for his handler, a staying chaser in the making and anything he does over hurdles will be a bonus. That could well be a huge bonus, with a win here certainly possible. Whether he gets home on really testing ground is a worry, and actually if it is that bad, he will more than likely re-route the the Ballymore over a shorter trip, but assuming the ground is no worse than soft, he should come here with a solid looking chance.
The favourite Thyme Hill is rock solid and has the form in the book, but he's been at the top of his game for an entire season now, something that is still improving and with less miles on the clock this season could come through and go past him. We think that horse will be Harry Senior, one with a Cheltenham win already under his belt from January and he is the pick in what could be a stamina sapping Albert Bartlett.
Cheltenham Gold Cup - 3.30
The big one of the week, a race that many will saviour and if they all line up, it should be a classic. We've an even split between the UK and Ireland too in terms of strong fancies. The Irish come with reigning champion Al Boum Photo, his stable mate and faller last year Kemboy and Delta Work, who has won a couple of big races in Ireland already this season.
For the UK we have Santini, winner of the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day, Clan Des Obeaux who won the King George for the second time in December and Lostintranslation, a horse that won the Betfair Chase at Haydock in December. Those six are all priced up at single figures, and the winner is likely to come from them.
The two least likely to win from those six are probably Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy. The first named may well be the best horse in this race, but 3m2f here, with the possibility of soft ground to make it even harder to get home, is not what he needs. It would be a surprise to see him get up this hill, something he failed to do last season. Kemboy is a horse with enormous talent, but this season he hasn't quite got there. It will take a leap of faith to back him in the hope he can get over a couple of subdued performances and land this.
That leaves four, the rock solid Al Boum Photo who won last year could well win back to back titles. The feeling is that we know how good he is and what he is, can one of the other three impove past him? Delta Work has done nothing wrong at all in Ireland, winning a couple of big races and certainly has the form to get involved here. Santini won the Cotswold Chase, the only trial for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, but he only just beat Bristol De Mai, is that form good enough?
Then there is Lostintranslation, who had the world at his feet after winning the Betfair Chase in November. Things didn't go to plan for him in the King George, but to be fair to him, that was never going to be a race that suited his style. He jumps well, stays all day and the tougher this test is the better it will be for him. He isn't flashy, but will grind it out for you and that is something you need in a Gold Cup winner, for that reason he is our selection in the big one.
Foxhunters Chase - 4.10
The Foxhunters Chase is ran over the same course and distance as the Gold Cup, and known as the Amateurs Gold Cup. Although we now see many of the bigger stables with entries in this race which has taken a little away from it, they are helping the amateur scene thrive, and this race is the feature of that.
It is an old favourite, who has looked as good as ever now in hunter chases, Minella Rocco that is our selection in this contest.
We've seen him twice this season so far, winning on both occasions. His latest win at Wetherby was interesting for two reasons. The first is that Derek O'Connor came over from Ireland to ride him. This suggests he will be his mount at the festival, and that means he is the number one runner from those owned by JP McManus.
Secondly, the horse he beat on that day was Hazel Hill, who won the Foxhunters last year, and is favourite for the race at this stage this season. There is every chance Hazel Hill will improve for that run and go better in the big one, but there is another couple of furlong to negotiate, and we all know how strong a stayer Minella Rocco is. They should be joint favourites based on what we saw at Wetheby, but Minella Rocco is available at bigger and therefore he is the value in the race and our pick.
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase - 4.50
After the fun of the first five races, we have two incredibly tough handicaps to solve that round off the Cheltenham Festival for 2020. The first is the Grand Annual, a race in which the Alan King trained Lisp stands out as having an excellent chance.
Expect a maximum field going to post for this, and with the race ran over just two miles, plenty of luck will be needed along the way. Lisp has only had three starts over fences so is still a novice, but does have plenty of hurdling experience behind him, including a solid effort in a big handicap at the festival last year.
That was off 145, he runs off 144 over fences here and the feeling is that he is a better chaser than a hurdler, which brings him right into the mix off a similar mark. There will of course be plenty of runners just like Lisp who go into the race thinking they have a few pounds in hand of the handicapper, and that is why races like this are so competitive and so tough to solve.
He is our selection for the contest though, it looks wide open but there is plenty of hope to think he can be thereabouts near the end.
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle - 5.30
The final race of the meeting is certainly a tough one, the Martin Pipe handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys. Just like the Grand Annual, plenty of horses will be coming here thinking they have a bit in hand over the handicapper and our selection is definitely a horse that comes under that category.
Our pick for the final race is Ilikedwayurthinkin for the Gavin Cromwell team. He's ran twice over the winter, and to say he's been looked after is an understatement. He won a couple of races with ease in the summer, and looked a prospect worth following based on those. During the winter he's not been put into his races in the same way, but don't be surprised to see him come to life in March, when there is a big prize on the line.
This horse strikes us as the type that has been saved with the festival in mind, and Ilikedwayurthinkin is our selection for the final contest of the meeting.