Cheltenham

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Zubayr heads the market after just the one run so far in this country, however it was the impressive nature of that victory coupled with the 380,000 euro price tag that means he is a 4/1 shot here today. He should come on a great deal from that first run and if he is a good as the vibes coming from Ditcheat, then surely he has a good chance.

Ivanovich Gorbatov headed the ante post market for a while but has slipped to second favourite with the support of Zubayr. Last time out he was comfortably beaten at Leopardstown when an odds on favourite. That was on heavy ground and his best flat form was on a much firmer going so the good conditions are hoped to bring out the best in him. His last flat run was an impressive performance from a mark of 97 so despite reservations from certain quarters, I think he has an excellent chance here and has drifted to a backable price.

 

15:30 Gold Cup

This is a wide open renewal of the Gold Cup with the top five in the betting all having an excellent claim.

Smad Place is the outsider of the five mentioned, however he is certain to head straight to the front and if he settles into a nice rhythm he may make things a little uncomfortable for a few of the others who are out and out stayers. He has form on good ground so conditions won't be a problems and has won around here before as well. The change of tactics to an out and out front runner have paid huge dividends, as when slamming a good field in the Hennessey, and I think he has a chance of repeating that today if everything goes well for him. He was eighth in the Gold Cup last year when ridden with restraint but I am confident he will be a lot closer today.

Don Cossack heads the market alongside Djakadam and is sure to be staying on as strongly as any coming up the hill. Vautour set a ferocious pace in the King George at Kempton and Don Cossack was staying on beautifully until coming down at the second last. Because of this I think he will be quick enough not to let Smad Place get away from him and will be flying at the end.

Djakadam is the ride of Ruby Walsh after Vautour was switched to run in the Ryanair. He was an excellent second place last year and he would have been favourite on his own today if he hadn't fallen last time out at Cheltenham when going well (a race that was won by Smad Place) and gone on to win that day. The Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins, Rich Ricci trio have had a fantastic week so far and a victory for Djakadam would really top it all off.

Don Poli won here last year taking the RSA Chase when the going was good and is an out and out stayer. I have a slight reservation about him keeping up with the pace if Wayne Hutchinson does as expected on Smad Place and trailblazes away in front. Bryan Cooper has also opted to ride Don Cossack instead if Don Poli and that in itself is enough to put me off. If he can keep himself in the race though he is certain to be staying on strongly so isn't without a chance.

Cue Card is the highest rated horse in the race and has been back to his brilliant best this season. He won his last race on Boxing Day in the King George where he closed down the large lead that Vautour had to catch him on the line and surely has a great chance today. I thought that Don Cossack was travelling better than him in the King George before falling but it was still an excellent performance. I can see Paddy Brennan keeping him handy and not wanting to let Smad Place get too far in front. Others appear to be better stayers and may be stronger up the hill but he keeps proving his doubters wrong and it wouldn't be  a surprise if he did so again today.

 

16:10 Foxhunter Chase

The Foxhunter's is a wide open race with 24 runners but it can be narrowed down quite a bit as jockey booking is massively important in the race given they are all amateurs. The difference between the top amateurs and the rest can be as much as a stone in weight and therefore it pays to side with the cream of the crop. J J Codd proved yesterday aboard Cause of Causes how good a jockey he is and I can see him having plenty to say about the result in this race. He rides Aupcharlie for Henry De Bromhead and is one of the highest rated horses in the field. At 9/1 best price with the firms paying four places he is a nice looking each way bet.

 

Today's Selections

13:30 - Ivanovich Gorbatov - 1 point @ 6/1 (William Hill, Betbright)

15:30 - Don Cossack - 3 points @ 3/1 (Most firms)

16:10 - Aupcharlie - 1 point each way @ 9/1 (Bet365, Skybet, Betvictor)

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