RACING

2018 Cheltenham Festival: Day Four Preview

The limelight so far from the festival has been on the man who is labelled as ‘Mr Cheltenham’ trainer Nicky Henderson who holds the achievement of 60 winners at the festival over a span of 40 years. It’s been a festival to remember for the 67 year-old who will be hoping if Might Bite wins in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup it will give him an exceptional clean sweep of Cheltenham’s three biggest races at this years festival.

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Above: Last year’s winner Robbie Power kisses the Gold Cup after victory with Sizing John

1.30pm – JCB Triumph Hurdle 

Nicky Henderson who holds a good record on the final day opener, can have confidence in unbeaten Apple’s Shakira (5/4) who could be hard to beat on these conditions and can only improve from her impressive start.

Redicean (7/1) who is three from three victories in the hurdles winning with ease against a shallow-looking line up in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last time.

Mr Adjucator (15/2) is 2/2 over hurdles and beat Farclas (15/2) last time out at Leopardstown. Farclas came second both times out in his last two hurdles but Gordon Elliot’s runners always tend to find that little extra at the festival to cause a few surprises.

Park Life Sport Racing Correspondent James Stevens says:

2.10pm – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

A race with 24 runners, Nick Williams’ Flying Tiger (11/1) won here in the Fred Winter last year and has had a good bit of form during the winter.

Bleu Et Rouge tipped as the favourite at 8/1, the JP McManus horse has won on soft/heavy before and came an impressive second in top Newbury handicap last time.

Sandsend (14/1) quite an inexperienced horse but won convincingly at Naas last time out.

Stevens says:

2.50pm – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

A quite crazy race in terms of winners, with the last four of this race being 11/1, 14/1, 16/1 and 33/1 my suggestion would be to tread carefully.

Nicky Henderson’s Santini (3/1) is the favourite who’s unbeaten in a point and a couple of novice hurdles. He did well in wearing down Black Op last time out who ran close to Samcro on Wednesday.

One that tipsters have been looking forward to seeing is Ok Corral (12/1) who is expecting to back on his stamina to carry him through to victory at eight years old against younger opposition.

Stevens says:


3:30pm – Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

The highlight of the Festival, this Grade One contest is contested over three miles and two furlongs.

Might Bite comes into the race after winning the King George at Kempton in December, and is the 4/1 market leader.

The nine-year-old also won the RSA Novices’ Chase at the Festival last year, and having won his last five races, is a worthy favourite.

Native River is priced at 9/2, and will relish the soft racecourse conditions.

Colin Tizzard will be hoping his charge can improve on the performance that seen the eight-year-old finish third in this race last year.

Our Duke will undoubtedly stay the distance, having won the Irish Grand National by 14 lengths in 2017.

Ridden by Robbie Power, the eight-year-old comes into the race on the back of victory in the Red Mills Chase, beating Presenting Percy, who went on to claim the RSA Novices’ Chase on Tuesday.

Stevens says:

4:10pm – St. James’ Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

This Class Two chase is contested over 3 miles 2 furlongs, with 24 entries for the race.

Burning Ambition heads the market, priced at 3/1, and has won five of his last six races in Ireland and finished second to Gilgamboa at Punchestown last time out.

With well respected amateur jockey Jamie Codd on board, many expect this seven-year-old to progress and go close.

Foxrock finished second in Thurles to the aforementioned Gilgamboa in January, having been out of action since April 2017.

The Alan Fleming-trained gelding won four hunter chase races last term, and a return to that form could see him go all the way.

Wonderful Charm finished second in this race last year, going down to Pacha Du Polder by a neck.

Trained by Paul Nicholls, it is expected he will run a big race, and will look to follow up his Musselburgh victory last month with another win.

Stevens says:

4:50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Flawless Escape heads the market for the race, and will be looking to give Gordon Elliott after victory, with the trainer notching up three successes on day three.

The five-year-old finished third behind odds-on favourite Total Recall at Leopardstown last time out, and comes here as a key contender on the back of that result.

Nicky Henderson, who had his record of all-time Cheltenham Festival winners surpassed by Willie Mullins, will aim to get one back with Diese Des Bieffes.

He finished fifth on his handicap debut, and if the five-year-old can continue to progress at the rate he is expected to, then 16-year-old jockey James Bowen has a fantastic chance of picking up his first Festival win.

Mullins runs three in the race, including Deal D’estruval, which is ridden by Liam Gilligan.

He finished second in a Leopardstown handicap last time out, and trainer Mullins says he ‘has to have a very good chance’.

Stevens says:

5:30 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 

In a wide open race with 23 runners, North Hill Harvey heads the market at 8/1.

Trainer Dan Skelton has put cheekpieces on in the hope of rediscovering his 2017 form, which seen him pick up two victories at Cheltenham in the space of a month.

Don’t Touch It has won a Grade One novice hurdle in the past, and is priced at 9/1.

He also wears cheekpieces, with the only other time they were applied, the eight-year-old picked up a victory.

Le Prezien has been well backed for the race, and currently sits around the 12/1 mark.

The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding was a beaten favourite in this race last year, and will be looking to rediscover the form that seen him win races at Kelso, Cheltenham and Exeter in 2016.

*words by Taran Patel and Johnny Morton.

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