CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TIPS – DAY FOUR: Galopin Des Champs looks to be in a very strong place for a Gold Cup win, while First Street is hoping to build on last year’s success by going one better in the County Handicap
- Gold Cup Lowdown: Galopin Des Champs is looking like a winner in waiting
- PADDY POWER’S CHELTENHAM CHEAT SHEET: Mick Fitzgerald makes his picks
- Click here for the latest Cheltenham Festival news, schedule and race results
Another enthralling day of action is in store as we head into the final part of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
With seven more races to come before the curtain is pulled down on a fantastic event, punters are braced for more drama, heartache and agony.
The highlight of Friday’s action is no doubt The Gold Cup, but there are six other entertaining races including the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the Mares’ Chase.
Here, Sportsmail brings you our racing experts’ tips ahead of day four with selections from Britain’s No 1 tipster Sam Turner, National Hunt legend Peter Scudamore and former Grade One winning jockeys Lizzie Kelly and Mick Fitzgerald.
First Street ran a fine race to chase home Champion Hurdle runner-up State Man in the County Handicap Hurdle 12 months ago and could go one better in the same event on Friday
Willie Mullins (R) will hope to build on all of his success this week in the final day of the Festival
DAY FOUR TIPS
WHAT IS A NAP?
The term NAP is used by tipsters to indicate the selection they feel has the best chance of winning on any given day of racing.
The term is short for Napoleon, derived from the card game of the same name when a player cries out ‘Napoleon’ when they think they have won.
1.30 – JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE
Willie Mullins does not have the best success rate in this event, but he won it last year and has a strong hand again with three strong contenders and a lightly raced stablemate completing a powerful assemble.
Blood Destiny narrowly gains the nod over talented filly Lossiemouth as he could barely have been any more impressive at Fairyhouse on his second start in Ireland.
That form has already worked out brilliantly with fifth-home Jazzy Matty lifting the Boodles Handicap earlier in the week and Nusret (third) landing the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton.
The classy Lossiemouth lost little in defeat when unlucky at Leopardstown and had previously appeared the ideal type for this test.
Zenta created a good impression on her Irish bow, hacking up at Fairyhouse to book her place in the field.
SELECTION: BLOOD DESTINY……………..15-8
MAIN DANGER: LOSSIEMOUTH…………. 13-8
LIVE OUTSIDER: ZENTA………12-1
2.10 COUNTY HANIDCAP HURDLE
First Street ran a fine race to chase home Champion Hurdle runner-up State Man in this event 12 months ago and could go one better now he has had a wind operation and been equipped with a tongue tie.
He underperformed at Wincanton last time, but appears much better suited by a big-field handicap than a small conditions race.
Filey Bay is also sporting a tongue tie for the first time and there was much to admire in his fine second to Aucunrisque in the Betfair Hurdle last time, as the duo pulled 11 lengths clear of Teddy Blue in third.
He has clearly been laid out for a tilt at this race and looks to still be improving.
That comment doesn’t necessarily apply to ballyadam but he ran a blinder behind Gaelic Warrior last month at Leopardstown and was fifth in this contest in 2022.
SELECTION: FIRST STREET……………..12-1
MAIN DANGER: FILEY BAY…………. 9-2
LIVE OUTSIDER: BALLYADAM………11-1
HUNTERS YARN (NAP)
2.50 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE
HIddenvalley Lake hails from a yard who have enjoyed a terrific week and there are plenty of reasons for believing he can regain the winning thread after a shock reverse at Clonmel on his last start.
The ground that day was testing and the selection cut out the running in a small field — arguably not the ideal tactics — before being picked off by stablemate monty’s star.
Hiddenvalley Lake is arguably better judged on his wide-margin win at Cork before Christmas, when he spread-eagled a competitive field in stunning fashion after the final hurdle.
This track may suit him more than Clonmel and he is fancied to reverse placings with the giant Monty’s Star, who should still run well given his top attribute is stamina.
Corbetts Cross is another for the short-list having won over a trip short of his optimal one last time.
SELECTION: HIDDENVALLEY LAKE ……………..17-2
MAIN DANGER: CORBETTS CROSS …………. 10-3
LIVE OUTSIDER: MONTY’S STAR………14-1
THREE CARD BRAG (NAP)
CORBETTS CROSS (NAP)
Gold Cup odds
Galopin Des Champs – 11/8
A Plus Tard – 4/1
Bravemansgame – 17/2
Noble Yeats – 10/1
Stattler – 10/1
Conflated – 14/1
Minella Indo – 14/1
Ahoy Senor – 18/1
Protektorat – 18/1
Sounds Russian – 28/1
Hewick – 40/1
Royale Pagaille – 80/1
Eldorado Allen – 100/1
Odds provided by Paddy Power
3.30 GOLD CUP
Galopin Des Champs has looked a Gold Cup winner in waiting for two seasons and he can vindicate that view this afternoon.
Much has been made of his suspect stamina at today’s trip, but Paul Townend took an age to pull him up after he won the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival and he hit the line hard that day, so he could even improve for a step up in distance here.
Ahoy Senor left Protektorat in his wake in the Cotswold Chase in January, but trainer Dan Skelton blamed himself for the latter’s defeat.
Skelton felt he didn’t have Protektorat fully tuned for that assignment, but if he can return his eight-year-old to the form which saw him rout his Betfair Chase rivals at Haydock in November, he could improve on his third place in this event 12 months ago.
Ahoy Senor has only run twice at today’s venue, finishing second in last season’s Brown Advisory Chase and winning here again earlier this season. His yard are in great form and he should excel at one of his favourite venues again.
SELECTION: GALOPIN DES CHAMPS…………….7-4
MAIN DANGER: PROTEKTORAT…………….14-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: AHOY SENOR…………..18-1
A HOY SENOR
GALOPIN DES CHAMPS
A PLUS TARD
A PLUS TARD
4.10 ST JAMES’ PLACE HUNTERS’ CHASE
Vaucelet has not quite hit the heights of last season, when he nearly beat Billaway at Punchestown before scoring well at Stratford.
However, his entire season has centred on this event and he looks poised to peak.
His stamina at this trip is assured and he is a pretty safe conveyance at his fences, so should give crack amateur Barry O’Neill a great spin.
Billaway, the last-gasp winner of this race 12 months ago and runner-up twice, has been equipped with blinkers to encourage him to travel a little more kindly.
He only got up in the dying strides last year but looks sure to be on the scene once more this afternoon.
Go Go Geronimo has plenty to find on official figures but he could barely have been any more impressive in two points win since Christmas and could outrun his sizeable odds here.
MAIN DANGER: BILLAWAY…………. 8-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: GO GO GERONIMO………33-1
BOB AND CO
4.50 MRS PADDY POWER MARES’ CHASE
Impervious laid down a strong marker for this race with a taking victory at Punchestown in Grade Three company and he can see off main market rival Allegorie De Vassy.
The daughter of Shantou is yet to be beaten in three starts over fences and she relished the step up in trip last time as she stayed on too powerfully for Journey With Me.
The runner-up has since bolted in at Naas to boost the form, so Impervious is preferred this afternoon to Allegorie De Vassy, who has displayed a tendency to jump right occasionally — far from ideal around Cheltenham.
Jeremys Flame is solid and reliable and arrives on the back of a smooth Huntingdon win, so is shortlisted, while last year’s winner Elimay could be revitalised by the blinkers after a couple of subdued efforts.
MAIN DANGER: JEREMYS FLAME…………. 6-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: ELIMAY………20-1
ALLEGORIE DE VASSY
5.30 MARTIN PIPE HANDICAP HURDLE
Siding with Irish novices that have run in graded novice hurdles has been a good route to profit in this race, so Cool Survivor could be the answer to a typically complex finale.
Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old fits the profile of a number of recent winners and he emerged with plenty of credit at the Dublin Racing Festival when poorly placed before running on strongly in the race won by Good Land.
A drop into handicap company and a stamina test like today’s should be ideal and he is expected to be there at the business end.
Spanish Harlem doesn’t have graded form on his c.v. but his stable have won four of the last 12 renewals and he is likely to progress further granted today’s assignment.
Mollys Ollys Wishes has few secrets from the handicapper but is talented on her day and appears overpriced.
SELECTION: COOL SURVIVOR……………..5-1
MAIN DANGER: SPANISH HARLEM………… 4-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: MOLLY OLLYS WISHES………3-1
Your best chance of beating the bookies this week is to stick with Sportsmail’s brilliant team of tipsters, led all the way through the Festival by National Hunt legend Peter Scudamore and former Grade One winning jockeys Lizzie Kelly and Mick Fitzgerald. . .
PETER SCUDAMORE (EIGHT-TIME CHAMPION JOCKEY)
Gordon Elliott-trained Three Card Brag (2.50) is the novice hurdler I have most been looking forward to seeing this week and he is my pick for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
He has been running well over two-and-a-half miles, but doing it in a style which shouts that he will be better when upped to this afternoon’s three-mile trip.
He is also proven on soft ground, so should cope with anything thrown at him today.
Adrian Heskin’s mount easily beat Spanish Harlem — who runs in the concluding Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle — on his last start at Fairyhouse.
His run before that produced a second place behind Inthepocket at Naas and that opponent didn’t harm the form when he was a very creditable fourth in Tuesday’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
LIZZIE KELLY (FESTIVAL WINNING JOCKEY)
Trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for seven of the 15 runners in the JCB Triumph Hurdle – it should almost be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission – and he can take the race with Lossiemouth (1.30)
Lossiemouth had triumphed in France before he arrived at the Mullins stable and then easily won at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown in December.
She was beaten by stablemate Gala Marceau — who reopposes today — in the Grade One Juvenile Hurdle at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival but she had really bad luck in running and still almost rescued victory when making up loads of ground from a hopeless position.
Stable jockey Paul Townend has chosen to ride Lossiemouth and, let’s face it, he was spoilt for choice. She also receives a valuable 7lb mares’ allowance.
In the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle, I am really keen on First Street (2.10). He was third in the race last year and has had treatment to help his breathing since a below-par run last time.
MICK FITZGERALD (PADDY POWER AMBASSADOR)
Corbetts cross (2.50) has won over two miles and stays three miles, and not many in this Albert Bartlett field can say that. He looks a cut above the rest.
I was really taken with blood destiny (1.30) when he won at Cork. Paul Townend has opted to ride Lossiemouth after an unlucky run at Leopardstown but it must have been a tough choice and I’m with the former in the opener.
Filey bay (2.10) was unfortunate to finish second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. He is a little higher in the handicap now, which is not ideal, but he could still be improving.
Henry de Bromhead’s Chriss Dream (4.10) has won a couple of point-to-points and that should set him up nicely for the Hunters’ Chase.
Allegorie de Vassy is fancied in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase but she jumps badly right, which doesn’t suit at this track. Impervious (4.50) is a rock-solid jumper and she’ll handle the ground, too.
Cool Survivor (5.30) is unexposed and has to be a huge player with brilliant young pilot Sam Ewing on board.
MARCUS TOWNEND (CAPTAIN HEATH)
Willie Mullins has won two of the last three runnings of the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle with up-and-coming novices and he unleashes another one today in the shape of Hunters Yarn (2.10).
Mullins was successful with Saint Roi in 2020 and State Man last year. The latter finished runner-up to Festival wonder horse Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.
Were he in any other stable, Hunters Yarn would probably have run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on day one. But such is the strength in depth that Mullins possesses, he can shuffle his pack.
Hunters Yarn was a comfortable winner of a Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Navan last month and it is hard for the handicapper to assess him.
In the Boodles Gold Cup, it goes against the grain to pick a horse who pulled up last time, but I can’t forget how easily A Plus Tard (3.30) won last year.
There were reasons for that poor last run. A prep race would have been preferable, but horses trained by Henry de Bromhead have been running well and Rachael Blackmore can bring it home again.
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