2021 Cheltenham Festival Day 4 Tips – Best Bets For Every Race On The Gold Cup Card
2021 cheltenham Festival Day 4 Tips
The Gold Cup takes centre stage on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and Al Boum Photo attempts to join the greats with a third successive win in the race. Daniel Overall has looked through every race with his final-day tips.
Zanahiyr (Triumph Hurdle, 1.20pm)
Imperious over in Ireland this season, his claims were only enhanced by Saint Sam’s solid run in the Fred Winter
Three from three over hurdles, he has shown plenty of tactical versatility to win a strongly run race at Fairyhouse before overcoming a slow pace at Leopardstown when winning the Grade 2 Knight Frank when last seen. With just the eight runners lining up here, that ability to thrive regardless of how the race is run will be crucial here.
While what is now the Denise Foster yard have possessed a plethora of talented juvenile’s this term, there has long been the feeling that this lad is a cut above the likes of Quilixios, who is now with Henry De Bromhead.
Gowel Road (County Hurdle, 1.55pm)
A progressive five-year-old, Nigel Twiston-Davies described him as “one of the nicest young horses we’ve had for a long time”.
He gave Bear Ghylls a fright on his rules debut where his greenness cost him the race away having traded at 1.2 in running. Fourth next time out, he duly delivered on his handicap debut off 122 before beating Good Ball in a strong novice hurdle (who had beat him two starts ago). That rival is rated 131 and despite conceding 9lb to him and handing him a five-length beating, he was only raised 6lb to mark of 137; that looks lenient.
With five-year-olds winning eleven of the last twenty-two renewals, novices also have an impressive record in the race; the selection ticks both boxes. It’s also worth noting that thirteen of the last fifteen winners were rated in the 130s.
Of course, there are some concerns. As previously mentioned, he has shown plenty of greenness at times but you can put an optimistic spin on that by highlighting the clear potential for improvement. He’s also bred to stay much further while this race has often gone to former flat performers.
But the new course at Cheltenham looks sure to suit given there are only two hurdles to jump in the final seven furlongs and how strongly he finishes his races.
Stattler (Albert Bartlett Hurdle, 2.30pm)
This year’s crop of staying novice hurdles don’t appear to be a great bunch and I doubt that we’ll be revelling in the standout form of this race as we have done with last year’s renewal.
With that in mind, I think Stattler still a solid proposition at 5/1.
A bumper winner last term despite being described as a “big staying type for the future”. He ran creditably on his debut over hurdles behind two hardy, experienced types before beating a dark horse for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, Glens of Antrim, on his next run in the manner of a horse that would appreciate stepping up in trip.
He duly did at the Dublin Racing Festival, contesting the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy over 2m6f, where his stablemate Gaillard Du Mesnil ran out a good winner, with Stattler finishing third having forced a strong pace throughout. Many took Fakiera out of that race as the one to follow with a view to the Albert Bartlett but I question whether he has the tactical pace to be competitive at Cheltenham; while dour, experienced stayers have done well in the Albert Bartlett, recent renewals have gone to relatively lightly raced types so perhaps we’re seeing a shift in what is required.
This race had eluded Willie Mullins for a long time but the tide has changed in recent years. He has won two of the last four renewals while a further two have placed in that timeframe. It would be surprising if Stattler was far away given that this looks a weak renewal.
A Plus Tard (Gold Cup, 3.05pm)
While Al Boum Photo is the one to beat, there comes a time where every king must relinquish his crown and this may well be it.
The reigning champion has already defeated many of those who will line up in this years renewal, but that is not the case with A Plus Tard who remains thoroughly unexposed over staying trips.
Yet he certainly did not look short of stamina when rattling home to win the Savills Chase over the festive period, which bodes well for his chances of thriving in the Gold Cup. Given that display, it is impressive that managed to do so well over shorter. In fact, he was the last horse to defeat the Champion Chase favourite, Chacun Pour Soi; we have seen horses with top-class form over shorter thrive once stepped up to the Gold Cup trip, Sizing John being a recent example.
With light campaigns being all the rage in terms of preparing for the Cheltenham showpiece, it is a positive that he’s only raced twice this season while has been intentionally freshened up with this race in mind. Everything looks set for a big run.
Bob and Co (Hunter Chase, 3.40pm)
Enigmatic but talented, Bob and Co was bought to win the top Hunter Chases and following wind surgery, now might be the time that he delivers on the big stage. He swerved Cheltenham last year but Nicholls now seemingly thinks he’s ready for the test, perhaps owing to the wind operation and for having another year to mature and acclimatise in Britain.
You can make a case for his emphatic defeat of The Worlds End and Wishing and Hoping is the best Hunter Chase form on offer this season while he would be amongst, if not the highest rated runner in the field.
And while David Maxwell has improved significantly as a jockey, it is a huge plus for Bob and Co’s chances that professionals will be riding in this race instead of the amateurs. Bob and Co is not an easy ride and the one race he didn’t win in Britain was due to Maxwell pulling up due to getting cramps in his legs as a result of his mount pulling too hard. Sean Bowen, who rode him last time out, looks set to maintain the partnership.
There were signs at Haydock that he was maturing; he showed his new found tactical versatility by not front running and while his jumping wasn’t foot perfect, Haydock is a fairly stiff test of jumping and he never looked like falling.
Billaway is a relatively short priced favourite but it was the same case last year when he was thoroughly put in his place by It Came To Pass, while the reigning champion has to bounce back from a very poor run just three weeks ago, although he’s sure to improve for better ground.
Paul Nicholls is the joint-leading trainer in this race and he looks to have an excellent chance of enhancing is already impressive record.
Elimay (Mares Chase, 4.15pm)
A progressive mare, Elimay won a Grade 3 and a Grade 2 novice chase last season and she seems as good as ever so far this term.
Narrowly beaten on her seasonal reappearance over hurdles where she was likely in need of the run before reverting to fences where she ran Allaho close on unfavourable terms, with pair pulling almost eighty-lengths clear of the remainder. That came over 2m4f, which looks to be her optimum but she handled the drop back in trip at Naas where she beat Shattered Love; she reopposed today but on two-pound worse terms, while the step up in trip will favour both.
Willie Mullins has an enviable record in Mares races and he holds a strong hand here but Elimay is his standout contender.
Gentleman De Mee (Martin Pipe Hurdle)
His connections have tasted plenty of success in the Martin Pipe; Willie Mullins has trained three winners of this race since 2011, while JP McManus won it back in 2019 while he also owned the two-market leader’s last season; like in all of the handicaps, the green and gold hoops are to be respected.
The form of his second start in France looks solid, with the first and third chasing home the top-class Le Berry in graded company subsequently while he made an impressive Irish debut in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Naas. There were four races over that distance on that card, with Gentleman De Mee’s win being recorded in the quickest time. One of those races, the Rated Novice Hurdle, was won by a leading Boodles contender, Druid’s Altar where he beat another contender for that race in Zoffanien yet Gentleman De Mee was over two-seconds quicker while carrying over a stone more than both.
That run came after a 460-day absence, with Willie saying after the race that he had a little setback earlier in the season and that he’d improve significantly for the run. He also noted that he’d be more of a Ballymore type than a Supreme type, which isn’t surprising as there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree. Indeed, he’s a half-brother to smart staying chaser, As De Mee.
There are plenty of similarities between him and Willie’s first winner of this race, Sir Des Champs. Both only had one run for the yard, which also came over two miles after the turn of the year having shown some smart form in France before lining up in the Martin Pipe.
The six most recent Irish winners of this race were all novices, five of whom had never run in a handicap so that’s another tick for the selection, while I remain optimistic that he can prove much better than a mark of 139.