Day three in our Tote Placepot chase started off well, but Empire Of Dirt’s poor run in the Ryanair Chase scuppered our chances of landing a share of the pot when he failed to make the frame in the third leg.
We’ve got one more chance on Friday of bagging a share of the prize, but the racing on day four of the Cheltenham Festival is no easier to call than in previous days.
Nevertheless, we’re eyeing up another crack at what could be a huge pot on offer, with Wednesday’s placepot returning over £3000 to £1 stake.
LEG 1: Triumph Hurdle (1.30pm) (2 selections)
MASTER BLUEYES (11) won the Kempton race in which Charli Parcs fell, and Alan King’s charge can post another big run.
Runner-up to the same horse at Kempton over Christmas, his subsequent narrow defeat at Huntingdon behind Divan Bere was franked when that rival went close here earlier in the week; and he got off the mark over hurdles when scoring at Ludlow.
Clearly going the right way, he can get involved and he should make a bold bid.
Mega Fortune can make the frame in the Triumph Hurdle.
MEGA FORTUNE (12) proved himself one of the leading Irish juveniles when beating Bapaume in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, and Gordon Elliott’s charge should give another account.
Runner-up previously to the same rival, the Soldier Of Fortune gelding has only once finished out of the frame in four starts over hurdles, bouncing back from a fall at Thurles on his hurdles debut to win at Down Royal.
Third on his next two starts prior to that Grade One success, he might prefer softer ground; but progressive, he looks one to follow for his in-form yard.
LEG 2: County Hurdle (2.10pm) (3 selections)
IVANOVICH GORBATOV (3) hasn’t progressed as hoped from his Triumph Hurdle win twelve months previously, but Joseph O’Brien’s charge has been highly-tried in Grade One company where he has performed with credit without doing enough to win.
The Montjeu gelding acts well on quicker ground, and dropping in grade into a handicap he may well take advantage of a potentially lenient mark with conditions here in his favour.
TELL US MORE (9) has been campaigning over fences of late, but could be very well treated back over timber.
Gordon Elliott’s charge won twice over hurdles prior to finishing runner-up in a novices’ Grade One contest behind McKinley at Naas; and the Scorpion gelding was sixth to Douvan in the 2015 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Subsequently a Grade Three winner over fences when last seen, he may well have more to offer back hurdling from this mark.
AIR HORSE ONE (14) has really got his act together over hurdles of late, racking up a hat-trick of successes in good style with wins at Exeter, Taunton and Ascot.
Harry Fry’s Mountain High gelding seeks a four-timer here, and although he drops in trip the likely fast pace will suit, and he could defy his 8lbs rise in the weights.
Ivanovich Gorbatov (right) looks well-handicapped down in grade.
LEG 3: Albert Bartlett Hurdle (2.50pm) (2 selections)
WHOLESTONE (14) has taken his form to a new level this term, winning four of his five starts which include over this course and distance when winning the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle in December.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge showed his versatility when overcoming a significantly shorter trip to score here over 2m 4f with a defeat of William Henry, and back up in trip he can continue to progress.
AUGUSTA KATE (15) would have gone close against Death Duty last time when the pair met in the Lawlor’s Hotel Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown back in January; but Willie Mullins’ charge fell at the last when holding every chance.
The Yeats mare locks horns again with Gordon Elliott’s charge, who has stamina to prove; but the Mullins mare has proven herself over the longer trip, and with good ground no issue she could well gain some compensation.
LEG 4: Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30pm) (2 selections)
CHAMPAGNE WEST (2) has improved for the switch to Henry de Bromhead, winning a Listed contest at Tramore prior to producing an excellent weight-carrying performance when bolting up in the Theystes Chase at Gowran Park.
Formerly with Philip Hobbs, the Westerner gelding has often been let down by his jumping, but he has looked more assured in that department in recent starts and wouldn’t need to find much improvement to go close here.
DJAKADAM (4) has finished runner-up in this contest on each of the past two years, and Willie Mullins’ charge should give a good account as he bids to go one better.
The Saint Des Saints gelding had a troubled preparation last year, but still managed to finish runner-up, although third would have been the best he could have hoped for had Cue Card not fallen; he hasn’t been at his best in two starts this term, including in the Lexus, but he could come alive returned here, and he’s been down this path before so could go close.
Djakadam (right) has finished runner-up in the last two Gold Cups.
LEG 5: Foxhunters Chase (4.10pm) (2 selections)
ASK THE WEATHERMAN (2) is a prolific winner in the point-to-point sphere, and the Tamure gelding translated his winning form under Rules when romping to a six lengths’ success on his hunter chase debut at Wincanton last month.
Only beaten once in points, Jack Barber’s charge looks sure to go well in this contest with top amateur Will Biddick jocked up for the ride.
WONDERFUL CHARM (24) lost his way over fences last term, but the hugely talented chaser has been rejuvenated by the switch to hunter chases, winning with authority at Musselburgh and Haydock.
The winning margins for both successes don’t tell the story of his dominance, and Paul Nicholls’ charge should give another good account.
LEG 6: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle (4.50pm) (2 selections)
COO STAR SIVOLA (10) made the frame in last season’s Fred Winter, finishing third; and Nick Williams’ charge has shown progressive form this term in winning here in a Listed novice on New Years’ Day prior to finding a Grade Two contest a step to far behind Wholestone.
However, the Assessor gelding quickly bounced back to score at Warwick, and raised just 4lbs he holds solid claims on his handicap debut under Lizzie Kelly from a fair mark.
VERNI (23) has bit to find on form, but he has shown good progress for the switch to Philip Hobbs’ yard, registering wins at Newton Abbot (twice) and Taunton, as well as chasing home the high-class Clyne at Haydock inbetween.
The Sabrehill gelding has been raised 10lbs for his latest success over the useful Willow’s Saviour last time, and while this demands more he could be up to the task.
Coo Star Sivola could go close in the Martin Pipe.
2017 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL PLACEPOT TIPS – DAY 4 SELECTIONS & PERMUTATION
LEG 1: MASTER BLUEYES (11); MEGA FORTUNE (12)
LEG 2: IVANOVICH GORBATOV (3); TELL US MORE (9); AIR HORSE ONE (14)
LEG 3: WHOLESTONE (14); AUGUSTA KATE (15)
LEG 4: CHAMPAGNE WEST (2); DJAKADAM (4)
LEG 5: ASK THE WEATHERMAN (2); WONDERFUL CHARM (24)
LEG 6: COO STAR SIVOLA (10); VERNI (23)