Four days of enthralling action comes to a close at Prestbury Park this afternoon with Jump racing's Blue Riband event, the £625,000 G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup taking centre-stage over three and a quarter-miles. A cracking support card sees Sir Erec bid to maintain his unbeaten record in the £125,000 G1 Triumph Hurdle and Pacha Du Polder target a third straight win in the £45,000 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase. Here at ODDSbible, we've once again previewed all the action.
1.30pm G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle
This looks like a huge opportunity for Sir Erec to maintain his unbeaten record over hurdles. A talented flat horse for Joseph O'Brien's father Aidan, he finished third in the QIPCO Long Distance Cup at Ascot on QIPCO Champions Day in October and the four-year-old son of Camelot has made a fine start to life over Jumps. A neck winner at Leopardstown in December, he impressed with the manner of his victory in G1 company over two miles back at the Irish track in February and this looks a good opportunity in what is not the strongest of renewals of the two-mile G1 event.
ODDSbible Tip - Sir Erec 11/10
2.10pm Randox Health County Hurdle
One of the toughest events of the week and it's hard to know what to fancy with a host of unexposed horses taking part. At a price Magic Dancer, a course and distance winner is of interest following a fine second in the Betfair Hurdle last time. He has been raised 5lb for that effort, but conditions should suit and a fast pace will be beneficial. This is however a wide open betting heat and it may pay to sit this one out.
ODDSbible Tip - Magic Dancer 25/1
2.50pm G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
We're really sweet on the chances of the progressive Dickie Diver for Nicky Henderson and Aidan Coleman. He looks the stable's second string with Barry Geraghty riding Birchdale, winner of two miles and four furlong event in January, but Dickie Diver comes into this race thoroughly unexposed. The six-year-old son of Gold Well was unlucky not to beat subsequent G2 scorer and fellow Albert Bartlett runner Lisnagar Oscar at Chepstow on his rules debut, but made amends with a facile success back at that track in February. He of course needs to step up, but he has enormous untapped potential and if he jumps better, he looks a stand-out each-way bet in a excellent renewal of the three-mile novice event.
ODDSbible Tip - Dickie Diver 5/1
3.30pm G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
Jump racing's Blue Riband has attracted a talented field of 16 for the three and a quarter-mile event and given the rain which has hit the track this week, Colin Tizzard's Native River has been well-supported to become the first horse since Best Mate to retain his Gold Cup crown. The nine-year-old son of Indian River ran a creditable race to finish third in the King George VI last time out when not suited by the track and a bold bid is expected back at Prestbury Park. In front of him at Kempton that day were Clan Des Obeaux and stable companion Thistlecrack, with the latter finally lining up in a Gold Cup after being denied the chance for the last two years due to injury. Paul Nicholls' Clan Des Obeaux travelled strongly that day and was impressive again on his latest start when landing the Betfair Denman Chase. However, he is yet to win at Cheltenham in his career and could be just be worth taking on. Presenting Percy is the leading Irish hope and he bids to win the Gold Cup having not raced over fences this term. Pat Kelly's eight-year-old won the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January and underfoot conditions will be in his favour. He was a striking winner of the RSA Chase last year and he has to be feared in this event. Willie Mullins has four contenders in the race including recent Irish Gold Cup winner Bellshill. He has stamina-laden qualities and is a sound jumper so also has to be feared. Kemboy, victorious in the Savills Chase in December will need to iron out his jumping idiosyncrasies as will Al Boum Photo, whilst Invitation Only probably lacks the class for this event. Others to mention include Welsh National scorer Elegant Escape, who will be suited by today's trip and last year's second Might Bite, who looked the winner for much of the race, before getting tired in the soft conditions from the back of the last. However, I think with more rain set to fall, Native River rates as a cracking value bet. He won the race last year, will give his all once again and whilst there is a fear that race may have left its mark, he has enjoyed a progressive campaign and he looks sure to finish in the placings with a clear round. This year's renewal boasts plenty of strength in depth and it will be interesting to see who lands the spoils on this afternoon.
ODDSbible Tip - Native River 4/1
4.10pm St James's Place Foxhunters Chase
Tough to be certain in this event, but Ucello Conti was a classy horse on his day for Gordon Elliott and has been unlucky in a couple of renewals of the Grand National. He has got the job done in comfortable fashion in three starts this season in both point-to-points and under Rules and this type of race could suit him.
ODDSbible Tip - Ucello Conti 5/1
4.50pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap
The Paul Nicholls-trained Magic Saint has been well found in the market for this event and that is no surprise following his emphatic success at Wincanton last time out. Ditcheat handler Nicholls revealed at a stable tour that this two-mile handicap has been a target for a while and the five-year-old son of Saint Des Saints has a progressive profile. He will need to step up again given his 7lb rise, but he remains thoroughly unexposed following just three starts in Britain.
ODDSbible Tip - Magic Saint 4/1
5.30pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
A new race to finish the Cheltenham Festival and Dallas Des Pictons makes plenty of appeal for Gordon Elliott and Donagh Meyler. He is unbeaten in his last two starts for the County Meath handler, bolting up by 10 lengths over two miles and four furlongs at Punchestown in January, before taking the step up to three miles in his stride at Leopardstown last month. The drop back in trip won't inconvenience him and he's also won on heavy ground which is another plus - he looks well worth supporting in this.
ODDSbible Tip - Dallas Des Pictons 7/2