Author: Alan Kelly
Cheltenham Festival 2016
Published: 17:42 14/03/2013
Only one day left of a memorable 2013 Cheltenham Festival with the Betfred Gold Cup the highlight on an outstanding card which kicks off with what could be one of the best JCB Triumph Hurdles of recent years. Our Conor, Far West and Rolling Star have all created a big impression this season and it will be a major surprise if one of the trio fail to take the juvenile contest and preference is for the Irish horse whose Grade 1 victory at Leopardstown last month looks even better after the 5th home Flaxon Flare routed a strong field of youngsters in Wednesday's Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, although the 7-2 available with Coral can not be regarded as great value.
The Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle can go to Cotton Mill who bypassed the Champion Hurdle to run here and despite the burdon of 11st 8lb can take this if reproducing his Betfair Hurdle form in which the 6 year-old found only the Supreme Novice Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours too good. 6-1 may not appear a tempting price in a hugely competitive 28 runner festival handicap but it will be a surprise if the mount of Denis O'Regan fails to go close.
Although At Fishers Cross has the best form in the Albert Bartlett after the impressive victory of The New One in Wednesday's Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle but the ground could prove too lively for the Rebecca Curtis-trained gelding and African Gold makes more appeal at the 7-1 on offer with Boylesports. Advised by this column at 16-1 some time ago the 5 year-old's form received a major boost when his latest victim Close Touch hacked up at Sandown at the weekend.
Only 10 are likely to go to post for the Gold Cup - but what a race! Bobs Worth has the best form and is the probable winner but at least six are capable of taking the prize and at the 14-1 on offer about last year's runner-up The Giant Bolster, David Bridgewater's 8 year-old is the value to go one better in a race which plays to the gelding's strength's.
9-2 Shot Chapoturgeon can gain revenge on last year's winner Salsify in the Foxhunters and Gevrey Chambertin (5-1 Boylesports) can give David Pipe some consolation for the defeat of Dynaste in the Jewson by taking the race named in honour of his father Martin.
For anyone looking for a big priced winner in the ' getting out stakes ' that is the Grand Annual, they could do worse than have an interest in 25-1 chance Marshal Zhukov, the mount of Ian Popham. The 7 year-old created a big impression when hacking up at Taunton in December and the Caroline Keevil-trained gelding could be well treated off a mark of 142.