Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, looks at Cheltenham Gold Cup Day and gives us five selections. View selections below
SILVINIACO CONTI (3.20) can make it third-time lucky in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. A faller when travelling strongly in 2013, Silviniaco Conti forfeited his chance last season when hanging left up the run-in. The application of cheek-pieces appears to have focussed Paul Nicholls’ chaser and he arrives in the Cotswolds on the back of two Grade 1 triumphs, in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George at Kempton. His jumping has been impeccable and the forecast rain is also in his favour. Soft ground would be a very welcome bonus for Hennessy Gold Cup winner Many Clouds, a remark which applies similarly to Willie Mullins’ Djakadam. Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell is a dual festival scorer but didn’t beat much at Kelso last time. The 2013 Gold Cup hero Bobs Worth has plenty to prove nowadays but Road To Riches, the Lexus Chase winner at Leopardstown over Christmas, is a rising star in the Graded ranks. Defending champion Lord Windermere has history against him and any significant rain would be a negative. Improving Carlingford Lough landed the Irish Hennessy in game fashion but has been let down by his fencing in the past.
PETITE PARISIENNE (1.30) represents leading Irish juvenile form in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and looks sure to acquit herself well for all-conquering Mullins. The filly travelled like a dream to land a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and can see off a strong British challenge headed by Peace And Co and Top Notch. The former has been talked about in glowing terms since arriving at Nicky Henderson’s yard from France, while stablemate Top Notch is unbeaten in five starts over hurdles, including two in France. Alan King has a good record in this race and Pain Au Chocolat may have more scope for improvement than the exposed, but hardy, Karezak.
Mullins saddles BLACK HERCULES (2.40) in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the six-year-old is unbeaten from two starts over hurdles. Fourth to Silver Concorde in last year’s festival bumper, Black Hercules will be another to benefit greatly from any heavy rain showers. No More Heroes and Martello Tower could make this an Irish whitewash. Best of the home contingent may be Value At Risk, a likely improver given a stamina test.
SORT IT OUT (2.05) creeps into the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle on a nice weight and JP McManus must have high hopes of landing this ultra-competitive event. Trainer Eddie Harty’s yard bounced back to form around Christmas and Sort It Out had a nice horse in Gallant Oscar (third to The Druids Nephew over fences on Tuesday) behind when scoring at Punchestown over the festive period. Sort It Out followed up with considerable ease and has the look of a trademark morning gamble. McManus is triple-handed and Tony McCoy gets the leg up on the very consistent Princely Conn. Well-touted The Game Changer, Modem and Quick Jack further complement a formidable Irish challenge.
ON TOUR (4.40) represents Welsh trainer Evan Williams in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and his bid for a four-timer was thwarted at Newbury when fading out of contention between the last two flights in the Betfair Hurdle. On Tour found himself with a lot to do turning for home that day and was probably taken out of his comfort zone dropping back to two miles. This longer trip suits. Dan Skelton’s Shelford looks solid, while Mullins will strip three runners. The best of the trio could be McKinley.
Compare Cheltenham odds and bet at the best prices