Alex Hammond’s Tip of the Day: Sky Sport’s Alex Hammond provides a race-by-race guide to day four at the Cheltenham Festival. Cheltenham free bet if you lose
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There’s a very short priced favourite for the Friday opener in Defi Du Seuil who was a 7/4 shot at the time of writing. Philip Hobbs has his team in tip top form and that may prove to be a great bet to start the final day. He’s done nothing wrong so far and I can see him stretch his unbeaten run to seven.
COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE
Another tricky little devil to sort out with some horses having multiple entries. Dan Skelton won this race last year with Superb Story and has North Hill Harvey this year. He beat Modus in the Greatwood Hurdle at this track back in November and has been off since. He has been raised 8lb for that. He has obvious claims.
This is a race I’ll be keener to look at on the day when I know what conditions are like and who has been declared.
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE
There’s a huge buzz around Death Duty for this Grade One, but he’s another at skinny odds. He’s 9/4 favourite with Sky Bet and it’s plain to see why with an unbeaten record over hurdles including in a Grade One last time out. The step up in trip will suit and he’s got strong form, but he seems mighty short. Having said that there have been a few short-priced winners of this race over the years, namely Black Jack Ketchum, Wichita Lineman and Bobs Worth and you get the impressive this horse falls into that category. He is certainly the one they all have to beat with Gordon Elliott saying he’s the most talented hurdler he’s had through his hands at this stage in his career. He’s a three mile chaser in the making.
For me, this centres around Native River and Djakadam. It’s been well documented about how this race has fallen apart, but it still presents a fascinating conundrum.
I’m sticking by my view that Cue Card won’t win as that’s been my stance for years! His trainer Colin Tizzard has what looks like a perfect Gold Cup candidate in Native River though and I backed him some time ago. He’s now 7/2.
In fact, Sky Bet can’t separate Cue Card, Native River and Djakadam at the head of the market; it will be interesting to see which of the trio goes off favourite.
I’ve had a sentimental bet on Djakadam and it may not be a foolish heart ruling head decision. This horse has had an uninterrupted preparation for the race this season which he didn’t last year and despite that he has still finished second in the last two renewals. He has been well backed. Sizing John has good claims for Jessie Harrington although he is unproven over this trip.
I’d normally body swerve having to sort out the Foxhunters, but On The Fringe deserves to be 11/8 favourite for Enda Bolger. There is a lot of confidence behind this horse who has an outstanding record in the race. He has won it for the past two years and has run very well on the other two occasions he has run in it. He showed his well being when second to Foxrock at Leopardstown in a Hunters Chase. With that winner ineligible to run here the race should be his for the taking with Jamie Codd in the saddle.
MARTIN PIPE H’CP HURDLE
Another fancied horse has been ruled out of the festival and a few ante-post vouchers were ripped up on Saturday afternoon with the news The Storyteller misses this race through injury. Willie Mullins is a trainer to follow in this tough handicap and it will be interesting to see what he runs on Friday. Watch this space.
GRAND ANNUAL H’CP CHASE
The getting out stakes if you’re still standing! Again we are still a little way away from knowing who lines up in this, but if Starchitect runs for David Pipe I’ll be interested (he has three entries throughout the week). This lightly raced novice chaser won impressively at Ayr last time and although the runner up let the form down on Saturday, he won in great style and is a classy individual. He has festival form having finished fourth in the Fred Winter in 2015 and then fifth in last year’s County Hurdle last year and his recent win should have given him a timely fillip. He’s an 8/1 shot.
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