Cheltenham Festival Day 4 Tips and Race-by-Race Guide
- Guide to the action at the Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival concludes on Friday with a top-class seven-race card featuring the Cheltenham Gold Cup and our sister site RacingTips.com preview all races.
Another top-class day also includes the Grade One Triumph Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Race 1 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
GOSHEN hasn’t seen another rival in chalking up a hat-trick of wins over hurdles and the Authorized gelding could be worth siding with to uphold his perfect record here. Gary Moore’s charge was a useful performer on the flat, winning three times which includes two on soft ground; he’s since unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and he demolished subsequent winner Nordano when bolting up in heavy ground at Ascot in January. The fourth from that race has also won since and there is likely more still to come from him although his tendency to jump to his right is a slight worry around here. He’s one of several runners in the race who is likely to want to lead so a strong gallop looks likely; but given the performance he delivered in his latest win suggested there was more to come he could be worth sticking with despite that jumping quirk and he can go well here.
Race 2 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
It might be worth taking a chance on OAKLEY to bounce back having not been seen to best effect in the Betfair Hurdle last month; but Philip Hobbs’ charge had looked a progressive sort prior to that run. The Oscar gelding had won twice last term as a novice as well as finish runner-up to smart chaser Rouge Vif. He made a pleasing return to action when third here behind Benny’s Bridge and he stepped up on that run when bagging another bronze medal behind Not So Sleepy at Ascot. He returned here in December to finish just a neck second behind Repetito, and he was outpaced in the Betfair Hurdle before running on well although he was hampered late on and may have finished closer than he did. This is certainly no easier, but he’s been eased 1lb in the weights and has Richard Johnson in the plate so he may be capable of outrunning his big odds.
Race 3 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle)
Fairyhouse bumper winner FURY ROAD has proven hugely progressive over hurdles, winning his first three starts over timber which includes a Limerick Grade Two contest over Christmas where the Stowaway gelding beat Well Set Up by one length. Gordon Elliott’s charge lost no caste in defeat next time at Leopardstown when finishing fourth behind Latest Exhibition in a Grade One contest where the drop in trip and steady pace were probably against him. This contest should present more of a stamina test with a stronger pace likely and the step up in trip and stiff finish will likely suit him better. He has the potential for better still over this longer trip and with the services of Davy Russell in the plate it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him going close for his top connections.
Race 4 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
Defending champion Al Boum Photo can go well again, but it could be worth focussing on last season’s RSA Chase form where DELTA WORK can gain revenge for his defeat in that race by coming out on top here. Having travelled well in that race he was just outstayed up the hill and he suffered some slight late interference after the last before keeping on well up the hill without quite matching the front two. He was only a six-year old though – both the winner and runner-up were seven – and he’s strengthened up since so could prove a different proposition now. Gordon Elliott’s Network gelding has gone from strength to strength this term following a lacklustre reappearance in the Ladbrokes Championm Chase behind Road To Respect. He might have needed that run however and he didn’t jump particularly well on that occasion. He’s won both starts since however, landing both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup where he stayed on strongly each time to record narrow victories over Monalee and Kemboy respectively. He could have more to offer and if the longer trip doesn’t catch him out then there’s every chance he can collect a third straight Grade One here.
Race 5 – St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
MINELLA ROCCO lost the plot following his runner-up effort in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Sizing John; but the Shirocco gelding has been resurgent in hunter chases the last twice and might be worth chancing to land a hat-trick of wins with top amateur Derek O’Connor booked for the ride. Jonjo O’Neill’s charge completed the course on only five occasion following his Gold Cup second, also pulling up five times having lost his way badly. However he’s impressed in racking up victories at Warwick and Wetherby the last twice, beating defending champion Hazel Hill readily for the latest of those successes. The latter was making his return and ought to prove a different proposition now; but the JP McManus-owned veteran can continue his resurgence in form to notch up a third straight success in this sphere.
Race 6 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
PALOMA BLUE has finished third in each of his last three starts and Henry de Bromhead’s charge can get back on the winning trail over fences. The Stowaway gelding was a winner at Leopardstown back in December 2018 after which he finished a creditable sixth in the Arkle Chase behind Duc Des Genievres before finishing off his season over hurdles. Runner-up on his seasonal bow back over fences he chased home Getabird at Gowran Park before posting a solid third behind Riders Onthe Storm at Ascot. He returned to Leopardstown last month to chase home Eclair De Beaufeu where he wasn’t helped by a mistake and being bumped over the last fence. That contest has thrown up a subsequent winner and while he’s been reassessed higher by the UK handicapper he could still have more to offer over fences and can continue to give a good account here.
Race 7 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Exeter bumper winner PILEON has won two of his three starts over hurdles, meeting his only defeat to date under rules when finishing fourth to Chantry House at this venue back in December. Philip Hobbs’ Yeats gelding has been impressive since in racking up victories at Catterick and Ffos Las respectively in novice company, latterly blitzing Republican by twenty lengths and looking a smart prospect in the process where he made all the running and only needed pushed put to score. That form perhaps is only ordinary and this will demand more from him stepping into a competitive handicap. However, the assessor may be taking a chance allocating him with an opening mark of 138 given his victim last time out was rated 130 and there could be plenty more to come from him. He has the services of one of the best conditionals around in Ben Jones for this assignment and likely to continue to improve he could do some damage from this rating with a big run in the competitive finale to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.