Despite what punters (and most bookmakers) may wish, unfortunately the Cheltenham Festival has to come to an end at some point. But what a way to do so with Gold Cup Day: the undoubted pinnacle of the meeting.
There’s a full card to enjoy, but we’ve picked out four of the feature races to form the basis of some juicy-looking betting tip:
Triumph Hurdle (1:30pm)
Over the years this renewal has produced some huge-priced winners for the odd punter to enjoy and the bookmakers to love, but last year’s triumph by Peace & Co at 2/1 shows that this race can be bested by the favourite too.
Those connected with Ivanovich Gorbatov (9/2) certainly hope so anyway, and in fairness the favourite has triumphed in his two starts over jumps at 16f after an early career as a flat sprint specialist.
Zubayr (5/1) is another expected to go well after an eye-catching debut win in February, while Sceau Royal (7/1) offers more experience than the leading pair plus a win at Cheltenham in December to fall back on.
County Hurdle (2:10pm)
There’s a sense of the open-ended about this one, with two horses priced at 8/1 battling it out for favouritism. Desoto County is one of them, but a run of one win five will be enough to sow seeds of doubt in many punters’ minds.
Instead, they may opt for Great Field – an impressive winner on debut from the Mullins yard, or Blue Hell (10/1); who won last time out as a 5/1 shot.
Superb Story (12/1) boasts a little more experience than most at the head of the market, and has a decent showing at Cheltenham last time out to call upon.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2:50pm)
Ten renewals, three winners that started as the favourite; that’s what we’re dealing with here. That means there’s a 70% chance that Barters Hill (11/4) won’t win here, although an impressive campaign over hurdles would suggest that he is worth a second look.
Shantou Village (5/1) offers a win and a second place finish at Cheltenham in his last two outings but has yet to trouble the 24f mark, while Long Dog (10/1) is another who catches the eye by virtue of six wins on the spin. He too has yet to be tested over the three mile stretch.
Hence why Gangster appeals at 8/1. He comes from the Mullins yard, has three wins in four starts and triumphed in heavy going over 24f last time out. There’s no questioning the legs or lungs of this nicely-priced outsider then.
Cheltenham Gold Cup (3:30pm)
It always takes an extra-special performer to triumph in this most prestigious of races, and this year’s field is as competitive as has been put together in recent memory.
Heroes are born here, with Gold Cup glory the indicator of a fine horse indeed. The prize money is nice, but you get the sense that just being able to ride/own/back a Gold Cup winner is all the more sweeter.
Don Cossack goes off as 3/1 favourite in a field of ten, and a stellar jumps career that has delivered 15 wins in 26 starts – nine of which have come in the last two years – highlights why this Gordon Elliot trained horse deserves respect. However, he has also failed to spark at Cheltenham in two appearances, and has fallen three times in his career – including in the King George VI Chase when favourite. This is contestable stuff.
Djakadam (7/2) giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other as well. He’s won six of his fourteen starts in impressive fashion, but fell at Cheltenham in 2014 and on his last start in January also on this famous course. A second place in last year’s Gold Cup means we cannot write him off however.
Cue Card (4/1) is well liked and it is easy to see why. A relatively uninspiring career was kicked in to life with victory in the Ryanair Chase of 2013, and while this is his first return to Cheltenham since that win a hugely impressive triumph in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day marks this horse out as special. He should have no issue with the distance, although two defeats to Don Cossack in 2015 are slightly damaging.