Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham is here, and we can’t wait to see what the final Festival outing has in store. As the punters take their seats and the finest racers in the world enter their stalls, the prestigious Gold Cup gleams in anticipation…
The cream of the crop of racehorses have made their name with the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and 2020 is set to be a captivating year for juveniles and stayers alike.
Here are our tips and predictions for the fourth and final day at the Cheltenham races.
1.30: JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade One) 2m 1f
The Triumph Hurdle has a rich history dating back to the 1930s – the race is the only one specifically for juveniles (here aged 4), and there will be plenty of high-grade talent on display this Friday 13th.
A strong favourite for this race is SOLO with odds at 3/1 following her recent success on Saturday – a beautiful horse to watch although timing is not her strong point, followed by Gary Moore’s charge GOSHEN (7/2), who has proved himself on the flat and has since taken to hurdles like second nature, smashing the course at Nottingham last October.
Another contender that shouldn’t be ignored is British racer ALLMANKIND with current odds at 4/1 – this is an exciting charge to watch on both hurdles and flats due to his impressive speed, and he’s triumphed in his last 3 races, one of which was at Cheltenham.
JCB Triumph Hurdle tip: ALLMANKIND – 4/1
2.10: Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade Three) 2m 1f
The County Handicap Hurdle has the potential to be one of the most exciting races of the season, with a wide array of racers getting involved. Ireland have traditionally dominated in this event, although there is plenty of talent from further afield.
CIEL DE NEIGE is a solid favourite at 8/1, after a powerful performance at the recent Betfair hurdle, being notable runner-up positions at Limerick and Newbury, and coming fourth to a promising JANIDIL (11/1) at Fairyhouse this December just gone. Dan Skelton’s MOHAAYED sits at 10/1 and is an experienced hurdler, having won the same race in 2018.
County Handicap Hurdle tip: CIEL DE NEIGE – 8/1
2.50: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One) 2m 7f 213y
Another highlight of Gold Cup Day is the Novices’ Hurdle – THYME HILL (9/2) has emerged as the favourite after rushing to three strong wins in the Novices’ Hurdle category earlier this year.
Legendary trainer Willie Mullins is dominating the field this year and has a triple renewals win behind him – for the Novices’ Hurdle he brings in MONKFISH (5/1), a runner-up in his hurdling debut and a runner who may well have the stamina to go the distance.
Irish charge LATEST EXHIBITION is another who deserves some scrutiny with odds at 6/1, holding impressive entries at both Leopardstown and Ballymore.
Novices’ Hurdle tip: MONKFISH – 5/1
3.30: Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade One) 3m 2f 70y
The moment has arrived: the steeplechasing prize that is lusted after by trainers and jockeys everywhere, the Cheltenham Gold Cup race. AL BOUM PHOTO (7/2) is a clear favourite as he won the award in 2019, and on exactly the same course.
SANTINI (7/2) presents similarly to Al Boum Photo – both of them have enormous potential for this race.
DELTA WORK (5/1) struggled at Leopardstown, but has improved away from the events and may have the stamina to go the distance.
Cheltenham Gold Cup tip: SANTINI – 7/2
4.10: Foxhunters Steeple Chase 3m 2f 70y
The prestigious Foxhunters Steeple Chase is set to be one of the most exciting of the day, with several returners and fresh faces making an appearance. Punters have their eyes fixed on trainer Philip Rowley’s HAZEL HILL (9/2), who triumphed by four lengths at the same event last year and is on good form to deliver a thrilling performance once again.
MINELLA ROCCO (11/2) is renowned for his stamina and performance in a large field – this strong stayer came second for the 2017 Gold Cup – punters anticipate a determined performance in 2020.
E Bolger’s STAKER WALLACE (7/1) performs well on soft ground, scoring a win at Nenogh in February and pushing through the qualifiers with flying colours – he is certainly one to watch.
Foxhunters Steeple Chase tip: MINELLA ROCCO – 11/2
4.50: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade Three) 2m 62y
The penultimate curtain closer is the Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase – this particular race has been part of Cheltenham since 1834 and is a highly coveted title.
One of the many tough strings to Paul Nicholls’ bow, GREANETEEN at 6/1 has experience in races of this calibre, having triumphed at the Scottish Champion Chase in February, and although he’s very much still quite fresh, he tackles fences with a champion’s energy.
LISP (15/2) is also a fierce contender for the title, with a strong bank of credentials behind her, including a win at Plumpton and a fluent run despite challenges at Doncaster.
Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase tip: LISP – 15/2
5.30: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4f 56y
Introduced in 2009, the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is the concluder to the four day Festival, and as such is a hotly anticipated event to round off a fantastic week at the races. Looking back at the past few years’ Handicap Hurdle can give you some idea of what to expect – and it’s never an easy-to-predict contest.
FRONT VIEW (6/1) has been on top form for over a year, winning at Punchestown and Cork, and coming second at Down Royal and Thurles. COLUMN OF FIRE (13/2) is a great all-rounder and he put on a stellar display at Punchestown in January – his odds are sure to drop as the race approaches.
PILEON (15/2) is another runner to watch, winning on a similar distance twice in January; his hurdling in Cheltenham saw him showcase beautiful form, and it’s worth noting his connection to Philip Hobbs, his trainer, who has had some serious successes in Cheltenham, with three out of seven charges winning in recent years.
Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle tip: FRONT VIEW – 6/1