Cheltenham Day 4: 70,000 gather for final day despite Covid-19 spread, Al Boum Photo to finish as double Gold Cup winner
It is now with curious amazement this article has made it to day four of the Cheltenham Festival. With all that is going on in sport and indeed societal-wise, seeing up to 70,000 thronged together, it feels akin to Nero fiddling as Rome burned.
Only time will tell with the returning race goers whether the annual Prestbury Park pilgrimage will create a legacy of its own.
Nonetheless, the biggest race of the hunt season goes ahead this afternoon.
Cheltenham Gold Cup -3.30pm
Al Boum Photo is back to retain his crown, won in impressive style last year. His victory was made all the easier by an early fall from the at the time in form Kemboy.
Kemboy’s form you can say has not completely returned and Al Boum Photo has been very lightly raced since – this in itself is not a negative.
Delta Work was very impressive in winning the winning the three-mile chase at Leopardstown at Christmas and followed up that form with by beating Kemboy over the same course and distance last month, but the feeling here is the fresher horse has the advantage.
Verdict – Al Boum Photo to double up – win at 100/30
JCB Triumph Hurdle -1.30pm
The rise of Goshen from obscurity six months ago to favourite now is quite spectacular. He has been decimating fields as he travels, there are question marks over the fields beaten however.
Aspire Tower fell last time out when travelling well at Leopardstown last month, but up until that blunder had a pretty flawless copybook. If he can bounce back and show no effects from eating turf he may get up on the line.
Solo is a being talked about a lot in the UK, but the form is hard to gauge having had two runs in France, before winning easily at Kempton last month. It’s hard to know if any of those races can prepare a horse for Cheltenham.
Verdict – Aspire Tower to win at 15/2
Radox Handicap Hurdle -2.10pm
Wide open race. On form this week, Willie Mullins’ Aramon could be the choice here. Mullins loves a handicap and Aramon has mixed it with the standard of Fakir D’Oudaires (2nd in the Arkle in Tuesday) and Itchy Feet (joint favourite in the Novice Chase yesterday – fell) and although his form looks average, it has come against a better class of horse, which is reflected in his rating – but also unfortunately his weight.
Verdict – Aramon to win at 8/1
Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – 2.50pm
There are quite a few decent sorts in this race and the favourite Latest Exhibition looks like the one to catch, his only lose to Abracadbras, who himself lost the Supreme Novice by a nose on Tuesday.
Sempo and Cobbler’s Way are familiar with each other, the latter however coming second to Latest Exhibition six weeks ago. And Thyme Way will put up a major effort.
At 33/1, The Cashel Man is an exciting front runner who sets a good pace and will be up to the rest not to get carried away by it. But this horse has displayed great stamina so could be there or there abouts at the finish.
Verdict – Latest Exhibition to win at 9/2, The Cashel Man e/w at 33/1
Foxhunters – 4.10pm
Last year’s winner Hazel Hill and Gold Cup runner up two years ago Minella Rocco had their own race within a race at Wetherby last month with Minella Rocco eventually winning.
It could be the same here. Shantou Flyer and Billaway could easily get into the mix.
Verdict – Minella Rocco to win at 7/2
Challenge Cup Handicap Chase – 4.50pm
The horse in this field with the biggest upside you would imagine is Paloma Blue but has never really reach it’s talent level. Maybe Henry De Bromhead can finally tap the potential.
Paloma Blue to win at 12/1, McGroarty e/w at 40/1
Martin Pipe Handicap -5.30pm
Pileon might just battle it out with Five O’Clock to complete a hat-trick of wins. Wouldn’t be like Willie Mullins to win a handicap now.
Verdict – Five O’Clock to win at 10/1