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Cheltenham - Day 4 tips from Otis Brankin Frisby

Cheltenham 2024 – Day Four

 

1:30 Triumph Hurdle 2m

 

With Sir Gino out the market has a muddled look with a cluster of Willie Mullins horses that are much of a muchness based on the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown Majborough was eyecatching on his first run for the yard and second ever start, jumping well when making the running and sticking to his task. He looks open to a lot of improvement and is held in high regard, but at around 7/2 he doesn’t appeal as a bet. It is difficult to split the likes of Storm Heart, Kargese and Bunting.I would prefer to side with NURBURGRING for Joseph O’Brien, who arrives with less hype but has been putting in quietly impressive performances. He beat Kala Conti in a good time at Fairyhouse, faster than the two G1s on the card won by Teahupoo and Farren Glory. He wasn’t seen to best effect next time out when third to the same rival at Leopardstown. They went a crawl in that race, tightly grouped until very late. He was bottled up and he finished his race strongly. Triumph winners tend to be strong stayers at the trip and the New Course will suit him well. I keep hearing noises from the right places about Ethical Diamond and his run in the Spring Juvenile was interesting. Sent off at 50/1, he was given an educative ride by Michael O’Sullivan before making smooth progress past horses without reaching the front pack. He was a 320,000GNS buy and was never entered in any handicaps this week.

 

Bet: Nurburgring @ 11/2 0.5pt Win

 

 

2:10 County Hurdle 2m

 

It is hard to ignore the confidence at the top of the market. The Skeltons have had an extraordinary week and L’Eau Du Sud looks like yet another major handicap chance. Dan Skelton is very keen on him and the form of his Betfair Hurdle win looks strong for connections who had two winners yesterday. The fact that King of Kingsfield has got away with an unchanged mark of 140 here is absurd and looks even more so now after the performances of Ballyburn and Slade Steel this week. If you respect his chance you have to consider Absurde too, who travelled better than him for much of that race and remains similarly unaffected. Pied Piper, Zenta and Bialystok also look interesting, but instead of trying to split them I am going to take a small risk on bigger-priced horses.

 

Gary Moore hasn’t had many runners this week but with the focus on the Irish horses in this race I think HANSARD is sneaking under the radar. The strong gallop here should really suit him as he sometimes takes a bit of settling, but when he does he is a classy horse. There are standout pieces of form there. His run in a handicap at Ascot off a mark of 142 really jumps out at me. The race wasn’t run to suit and he travelled better than most off a steady pace, while the winner Luccia has franked the form in a big way in the Champion Hurdle. He also finished just behind her in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree last year won by Inthepocket, recording an RPR of 145 on just his fourth hurdle start. I think he has more to offer if arriving here in form.

 

Another horse I like at around 28/1 is PETIT TONNERRE, who finds himself on his lowest handicap mark since Feb 2022. He reverts to hurdles after flirting with fences for a while and running well in good races behind the likes of Libberty Hunter and Le Patron. He was a six-length seventh in this race last year, finishing stronger than anything. Unlike his rivals, he races off a lower mark this time round and the first-time visor goes on.

 

Bet: Hansard @ 20/1 0.5pt EW (6 places)

Bet: Petit Tonnerre @ 22/1 0.5pt EW (7 places)

 

 

2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 2m7f

 

This race has a habit of throwing up big-priced winners and there are perhaps reasons why. Firstly, there is a bigger field than the other novice hurdles and it starts on a bend where they jostle for position, so it does tend to light horses up and every year a fancied one seems to do too much too soon. Secondly, racing over 3m at the New Course is a proper test, one that doesn’t necessarily suit the classier horses who have been racing in graded novice hurdles over shorter distances throughout the season. They get racing 5 out at the top of the hill and it is usually a gruelling finish. Readin’ Tommy Wrong has been getting mentions from the right people for a while now and the market speaks a thousand words. He has the perfect relaxed style of racing which should serve him well over this trip but I just can’t have him at such short odds with the aforementioned race trends in mind. Dancing City and Gidleigh Park make more appeal of those at single-figure prices.

 

One horse who should definitely appreciate the trip is Lecky Watson, who beat two next-time winners over 2m7f at Thurles. He is a big, strong horse and already has festival form with his fourth in the Champion Bumper last year. He had a real chance of winning that race before he was completely squeezed out and I liked the way he went back galloping to the line. My only reservation is that he can be extremely keen, which was certainly a hindrance to him in the Lawlor’s of Naas and will not do him any favours in this. He goes with a first-time hood and I will wait as long as I can to see how he behaves. STELLAR STORY also looks a big price to me. He beat Ile Atlantique and Caldwell Potter in a bumper last season and has backed that up this season with a big run behind Slade Steel at Navan. He often gets outpaced in his races before staying on and looks a relentless galloper who will be keeping on when others have thrown in the towel. He is by Shantou and out of a mare produced The Storyteller

 

Bet: Lecky Watson @ 11/1 0.5pt EW (4 places) (wait until as late as possible)

Bet: Stellar Story @ 33/1 0.5pt EW (4 places)

 

 

3:30 Gold Cup 3m2f

 

Unimaginatively I am very keen on GALOPIN DES CHAMPS in the big one and he is actually one of my biggest bets of the week. I’ve fancied him for this ever since he won last year and nothing has come out of the woodwork to change that. There was an overreaction to his reappearance in the John Durkan, where he was third over an insignificant trip in a race which turned into a sprint. His jumping took a while to warm up and he got caught when trying to switch between the other two before the line. He was entitled to that run and, for me, the fact he got within 2 lengths was testament to his retained ability. I also think there has been too much made of his two defeats to Fastorslow, one being in that race and the other just after the Gold Cup. Fastorslow is a very good horse and wouldn’t be a bad each-way bet, but for me he is simply a level below Galopin des Champs. As the season unfolds, I think that people read too much into 3m chases outside Cheltenham, forgetting that this is a totally different test altogether. They race over 3m2f and with all the top horses running, the pace is always strong – the fact that Galopin des Champs has been there and won it is a massive plus. Nothing went right for him in the race last year and they rode him quietly to make sure he got the trip. They will ride him more positively this time and I don’t care if it is difficult to win back-to-back Gold Cups because this horse is a machine.

 

Running a line through the other runners, I would be firmly against Gerri Colombe who I’ve always had down as an overhyped horse; L’Homme Presse is a nice horse but not sure he is classy enough for this; Hewick needs good ground to be competitive and the trip is probably beyond Bravemansgame’s orbit (though I think he could run well and has drifted to a tempting price). The other issue with backing these horses each-way is that they will all be ridden to win and could ruin their chance of a place. Corach Rambler may well run into the frame for Lucinda Russell – they have made it clear that the National is the main aim so he will be ridden to run well rather than win. GENTLEMANSGAME is a horse I really like and very unexposed, especially at 3m+. He is not without his problems, thus his infrequent appearances, but Mouse Morris knows how to get one ready from a break. Beating Bravemansgame in the Charlie Hall isn’t to be knocked and he strikes as a tough, old-fashioned type of chaser who should thrive in a test like this.

 

Bet: Galopin des Champs @ 11/10 3pt Win

Bet: Gentlemansgame @  25/1 0.5pt EW (4 places)

 

 

4:10 Foxhunters 3m2f

 

A great race over the Gold Cup fences but I am not going to have a bet.

 

 

4:50 Mares Chase 2m4f

 

Dinoblue is a very classy mare at 2m but she is a short price here and I wonder whether she has been shoehorned into this race. 2½m on the New Course at Cheltenham is a far cry from the sort of races she has been dominating in Ireland, particularly on soft ground. She is a speedy type by Doctor Dino and there’s not a huge amount in her pedigree to suggest she’ll stay. Each of the three winners of this race had won over further than 2m and I am keen to take her on with LIMERICK LACE, who has been in fine form this season. She hosed up at Clonmel on reappearance then came second over 3m in the 20-runner Troytown behind Coko Beach and takes a handy 5lb off Dinoblue and Allegorie de Vassy. Keith Donoghue was meant to be jocked up on Brides Hill but has switched to ride her.

 

Bet: Limerick Lace @ 7/2 1pt Win

 

 

5:30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle 2m4f

 

The recent roll of honour for this race is impressive with the last three winners being Iroko, Banbridge and Galopin des Champs. It does tend to favour young unexposed horses with all of the 15 winners aged 5, 6 or 7 and 13 of them having had no more than 8 runs over hurdles, All of Willie Mullins’s winners have been novices. JP McManus’s team of handicappers has been absolutely lethal at the festival already and when they come in for money you have to take notice. Yesterday Inothewayurthinkin bolted up in the Kim Muir and Crebilly was an excellent second in the Plate. WATERFORD WHISPERS is very much in the same mould at around 7/2. His time at Fairyhouse when beating Answer to Kayf was very good and he won going away. Since then was second to Champagne Admiral at Leopardstown, finishing strongly again and beating Yeats Star who is 4lb worse off here. The other horse who appeals is BETTER DAYS AHEAD under Danny Gilligan. He was 5 lengths fourth to Slade Steel at Navan and given that I also like the second and third for the Albert Bartlett this tip makes itself somewhat. He made a mistake coming down the straight which put an end to his chances and didn’t disgrace himself when giving 15lb to Asian Master next time out.

 

Bet: Waterford Whispers @ 7/2 1pt Win

Bet: Better Days Ahead @ 10/1 1pt EW (5 places)

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