All too soon, we’ve arrived at the final day of yet another superb Cheltenham. This is Gold Cup day, the climax of the meeting; but there are plenty of other great races. Let’s run through the Cheltenham Festival day 4 runners and see which are worthy of our support.
Gone are the days when this card kicked off with a riotous 30-runner cavalry charge. But while the Triumph Hurdle may have diminished in quantity, there is plenty of quality in today’s small field.
Tritonic threw his hat firmly into this ring last month with a stylish victory at Kempton last month, pulling clear of his field in eye-catching style. However, it’s asking a lot from the four-year-old to peak again less than three weeks later.
Besides, it’s clear from the Festival so far that this season’s Irish novice hurdlers are well ahead of their English counterparts – and there are two raiders with persuasive credentials here.
Quilixios recorded an easy win at the Dublin Racing Festival last month and the horse behind him, Saint Sam, went close in the Boodles here on Tuesday.
But ZANAHIYR (NAP) gave that same rival weight and a beating over the same Leopardstown course at Christmas and simply looked more progressive.
He may not make us rich, but he looks one of the best bets for the Cheltenham Festival and should give us a winning start to Gold Cup day.
Here's how Zanahiyr (1-2F) justified favouritism in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. pic.twitter.com/l4aGvh6gjv— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 26, 2020
Older racing fans will remember the days when the County Hurdle was the last race of the Festival. And if you hadn’t had half the field tipped to you by the time they went off, you really weren’t listening hard enough.
With 26 runners, this is a race to seek out bookmakers offering extra places and having a gentle each-way interest.
You Raised Me Up is an intriguing contender, with two nice wins in Ireland this season and his trainer Martin Brassil raising comparisons with his 2006 Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde.
Champagne Gold has also been the subject of some warm gossip following a quietly impressive campaign for Henry De Bromhead.
But it is interesting that THIRD TIME LUCKI passed on an engagement in the Supreme Novices’ to come here.
You have to ignore his dismal run at Musselburgh last time, but Dan Skelton is a big fan and he knows how to win this race, having trained three of the last five winners, meaning Third Time Lucki gets the nod as our Cheltenham Festival tip for day 4 in the County Hurdle.
The key to this race is the 2m6f contest that took place at the Dublin Racing Festival last month. In behind the winner Gaillard Du Mesnil were two horses auditioning for favouritism in today’s race over two furlongs more.
Stattler ran a brave race, trying to make all against Gaillard Du Mesnil, who went on to be runner-up in the Ballymore this Wednesday.
Stattler has never raced over three miles and he faded into third in the closing yards, but in his defence that was on heavier ground than he encounters here.
However, one place behind him was a horse doing all his best work in the finishing strides. FAKIERA looked like a horse who will properly relish today’s extra distance and he can land the Cheltenham Festival odds here as our Cheltenham Festival day 4 tip in the Albert Bartlett.
Another Irish novice in the shake-up could be Torygraph, who looked pretty useful in winning over just short of today’s trip at Thurles in January.
It’s tempting to put up an argument for Paul Nicholls’s Barbados Buck’s, who has won three times on decent ground over three miles this winter, but the Irish novices look head and shoulders above the English this season.
This is it, the highlight of the week as one of the most coveted prizes in the world of horse racing is decided.
We could see history made today as Al Boum Photo goes for a third successive win. That’s a feat achieved most recently by Best Mate in 2004, while the Irish-trained horse to complete the hat-trick was the immortal Arkle in 1966.
Al Boum Photo undeniably has less star quality than either of those two. He doesn’t run very often but when he does he’s efficient and effective – it would be no surprise to see him enter racing folklore.
A Plus Tard, a previous Festival winner, came with a late rattle to beat a decent field at Leopardstown at Christmas but has little other compelling form in the book.
Santini, so close to catching Al Boum Photo a year ago, has put in a series of average performances this season. Champ, the winner of last year’s RSA Chase, has not run over three miles since and still has questions to answer over his jumping.
That’s also a concern over Kemboy and Minella Indo, while Royale Pagaille is an interesting contender who would surely prefer the going much softer.
With all that in mind, our Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup tip has to go to FRODON. He’s a horse who seems to fly under the radar but he loves Cheltenham. The partnership with our very own Bryony Frost is one of the best in racing and, having won the Ryanair at the Festival two years ago and taking the King George at Kempton at Christmas, they look good again here.
Frodon has a terrific battling attitude and if he gets into his rhythm at the front of the race, he could take some passing.
🗣️ “I got some amazing jumps from him. He’s what you dream of as a little girl – absolutely epic"— Timeform (@Timeform) December 26, 2020
Frodon gave trainer Paul Nicholls a 12th win in the King George VI Chase at Kempton under a cracking front-running ride from Bryony Frost.
The complexion of “the amateurs’ Gold Cup” has been changed by the Covid-driven insistence that only professionals can ride at the Festival this year.
Nevertheless, it is worth examining the Cheltenham Festival trends around this race. In the last ten years, three horses have won it twice.
And IT CAME TO PASS can emulate that feat by repeating last year’s shock 66-1 success.
🏆Cheltenham Festival Winner🏆— Tattersalls Ireland (@tatts_ireland) March 13, 2020
It Came To Pass storms home under a brilliant ride from @MaxineOSullivan in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup for her dad @emosulivan15.
Purchased at the November NH Sale by Jim Culloty from Edmond Coleman ✨ pic.twitter.com/zctLVkSoKW
All the talk this winter has been about Billaway, who went off favourite a year ago and finished second. But all his form has been on ground softer than will prevail today.
It Came To Pass has done little this season but clearly loved the conditions last year and will relish today’s ground, making him our Cheltenham Festival day 4 tip in the St James’s.
Bob And Co, who won nicely at Haydock last month, could also challenge, while Hazel Hill, the winner here two years ago, showed at 13 he retains some of his old fire with a warm-up win at Ludlow.
How appropriate that the first running of the mares’ chase should be sponsored by Ireland’s most famous bookmaker.
Because the race looks certain to showcase the power of Irish jump racing in the modern age.
The first five or six horses in the betting are all trained in Ireland and the best chance for a home win appears to lie with Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Zambella, at about 20-1.
Ahead of her are horses like Shattered Love, who ran in the Gold Cup two years ago, and Magic Of Light, second in the Grand National in 2019.
Colreevy, trained by Willie Mullins, has put up some promising performances this season, but the vote goes to her stablemate ELIMAY.
She shaped well in her prep run at Naas, jumping smoothly when the pace increased in the later stages. Elimay has looked since then like one of the Cheltenham Festival favourites most likely to oblige this week.
👏 What a likeable mare— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 13, 2021
Elimay easily lands Listed honours in the @BBAIreland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase, completing a double for @WillieMullinsNH & Mark Walsh at @NaasRacecourse
🏆 She looks a leading player for the new Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase at @CheltenhamRaces pic.twitter.com/UsLfDmRnss
The Lucky Last. The Get-Out Stakes. And for your final delectation and delight, a 24-runner handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys. Someone, somewhere, has a wicked sense of humour.
Let’s hope the Cheltenham Festival trends are our friends. It’s ten years since a favourite obliged and five since a five-year-old won – the age of many of those leading the market.
One who catches the eye at longer odds is EGLANTINE DU SEUIL (e.w.). Two years ago she won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle for Willie Mullins on good to soft ground – the conditions she will get today.
She has rarely had her going since and has switched stables in the interim, but her new handler, a certain Paul Nicholls, has won the race twice in the last ten years.
Her jockey Bryan Carver shows real promise and, at a decent double-figure price, she could give us an exciting final run for our money as our last Cheltenham Festival day 4 tip.
Backing a single winner on a day at the Cheltenham Festival feels great. So how amazing would it feel if you had backed four and then put them all together in an acca?
For the final time this week, let’s try to bring the house down by combining four leading fancies in a Cheltenham Festival accumulator.
What race will Al Boum Photo run in at Cheltenham?
Al Boum Photo has won the last two runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He will line up again in the race on Friday with the chance to become the first triple Irish winner of the race since the immortal Arkle himself. However, Willie Mullins’s star will have to see off an extremely competitive field to make it three in a row.
What race will Monkfish run in at the Cheltenham Festival next year?
Monkfish is one of the biggest stars of the jumping game and could potentially become a legend of the sport. He won the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (formerly the RSA) in fine style on Wednesday and is likely to be one of the Cheltenham Festival favourites next year – when his target will be the Gold Cup.
How many favourites won at Cheltenham Festival?
All races at the Cheltenham are ferociously contested and many favourites go down to the start with huge reputations – and pass the finish line with them in tatters. In 2020, for instance, out of the 27 races over the four days, only eight were won by favourites or joint favourites.
How do I watch Cheltenham Festival?
You can watch the Cheltenham Festival on terrestrial TV, which has expanded its coverage and will be screening six races each day in 2021. Live coverage is also available on subscription channels, while there is live streaming on many bookmakers’ websites and apps – you may need to place a bet or have a positive account balance.
horseracing.co.uk is not responsible for the content of external sites.