After 3 days of top class racing & several feathers ruffled, we have reached Gold Cup Day & the last day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival
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Firstly, We would like to thank the team for their hard work this week & we would also like to send our love to Chris & Charlie, who are taking a break for personal reasons.
It has been a good week on the whole, the racing has been fantastic with so many exciting races.
Thanks also to everybody, who has worked so hard in the year to get the Stars of the Festival, the horses, ready for this week – You are all amazing.
Let’s get Gold Cup day up & running, Just Rich & Jamie today….
2.10 County Handicap Hurdle – Class 1 – 5yo+ – 2m 179yds..
Path D’oroux – Coastal Path X Belle Du Bresil 6yo gelding
4 hurdle starts with 2 wins. Made his debut back in October in a 2m 90yd Galway Maiden Hurdle, winning by 4 & 1/2 lengths from Itswhatunitesus (Field of 20 runners). Ran in a pair of Grade 1 Novice Hurdles, Pulled Up 2 out in the Royal Bond, 2f from home before finishing 4th to Facile Vega in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle by 28 lengths at Leopardstown, both races ran in December.
His last run was on January 21st, when landing a Navan 1m 7f 170yd Novice Hurdle by 4 & 1/2 lengths – EACH WAY
The DANGER is likely to come from Hunters Yarn, Fame & Glory X Full Of Birds 6yo gelding, who has 2 wins from 3 hurdle starts, including a 13 length maiden win on his 2nd start & a Navan 2m Listed Novice Hurdle last month..
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 5yo+ – 2m 7f 213yds
Hiddenvalley – Sholokov X Coming Home 6yo gelding
3 hurdle starts with 2 wins & a runner up spot. Naas maiden hurdle win over 2m 3f by 2 & 1/4 lengths from Santonito in November before an 8 length win in the Cork 3m Stayers’ Novice Hurdle Grade 3 in December. His last run was on February 16th, when finishing a 1/2 length 2nd to Monty’s Star in a 3m Clonmel Grade 3Novice Hurdle – EACH WAY
1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (G1)
Selection: Blood Destiny
Willie Mullins has such a strong hand in this year’s Triumph Hurdle that Paul Townend has had a tricky decision to make as to which horse to ride, as he has admitted himself. I think he may have chosen the wrong one in the mare Lossiemouth as Blood Destiny has looked an impressive sort this season back home winning both his races this campaign. A French import, Blood Destiny made his debut for Mullins at Cork in December where he won pretty much on the bridle. The form has been boosted by the second and fifth winning next time out. The next step on the road to Cheltenham was a winner’s hurdle at Fairyhouse where my selection romped away to win by a yawning 18 lengths hard held. The form has worked out well with Nusret (3rd) and Jazzy Matty (5th) winning the Dovecote and Boodles Juvenile Hurdle’s since then. Lossiemouth and Gala Marceau have won at a higher level and receive the Mares allowance, but I think Blood Destiny has looked very good and he has some good form as well. The fact Townend has decided to ride Lossiemouth has made Blood Destiny a bigger price, which I don’t mind! He has a big chance and the more rain that falls, the better for him.
3:30 – Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1)
This looks to be a vintage Gold Cup and it will take some winning that’s for sure. The defending champion, a potential generational talent in Galopin Des Champs, a Grand National and King George winner all clashing. What’s not to love! Looking at the betting I think Conflated is overpriced at around 14/1 and worth an each way play. Gordon Elliott’s charge has become a top chaser in the past 18 months and he may not have reached his ceiling yet. Things went wrong at Cheltenham last year when he fell two out in the Ryanair when disputing second. However, since then Conflated has taken his form to another level. Highlighted by a comfortable win in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase at Christmas last time around, reversing the Down Royal form with Kemboy by staying on powerfully through the soft ground. Envoi Allen beat Conflated at Down Royal when my selection was probably in need of the run a bit. That form doesn’t look too bad now after the Ryanair Chase. With the ground set to suit and the team happy with his preparations I think there is every chance he can run into a place.
3.30, Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, 3m2f , Grade 1
And so it finally arrives, the race which will decide who is the best chaser in the UK and Ireland.
On paper it looks a top class renewal with some seasoned campaigners at the highest level plus two Grand National winners (Aintree and American) thrown in too, it’ll be a race to savour.
Favourite for this race for a long time has been Galopin Des Champs, just two starts this season have yielded two wins with his most recent one being in the Irish Gold Cup but he won’t find this as easy a task with the likes of Bravemansgame who spearheads the home contingent, another whose 2/2 this season but in the past two seasons has struggled in the big spring festivals.
As usual quite a few bookmakers will be paying more places for each way punters so I’m sticking with a northern based runner to run a big race.
1993 was the last time the Gold Cup found itself going north up the M5 towards Yorkshire and with many ifs and buts about the field I’m going for the Ruth Jefferson trained SOUNDS RUSSIAN.
A model of consistency with a heart like a lion he was moved up in grade after winning some good handicaps, 4th in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December behind Noble Yates he then ran on to be placed in the Rowland Meryck over Christmas before almost getting the better of Ahoy Senor in the Cotswold Chase back in January.
He was sent on a bit too soon but rallied well towards the end, this race is much deeper but he’s yet to finish outside the first four over fences and he can give a good account of himself.
Thanks for your support all week, we really do appreciate you stopping by & it means a lot to us all at AOLR.
Good Luck – The AOLR Team