Friday at Cheltenham

We preview the final day of Cheltenham 2018 – Gold Cup Day.

The seven race card begins with the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle but it is Gold Cup that is the race everyone will be waiting for.

Don’t forget any non-runners you can keep up-to-date via our Non-runners tool

We have detailed run through of every race, including a full preview, a run through from our racing expert The Duke and also his picks for each.

Also – struggling to pick your Gold Cup horse? Let us do it for you

1.30pm Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f 125,000

Last year’s winner: Defi Du Seuil 5/2

The JCB Triumph Hurdle was first run at Hurst Park in 1939 and transferred to Cheltenham in 1965 on the closure of the London course. The race originally took place at Cheltenham’s April Meeting but was moved to The Festival in 1968.

It is the leading event in the National Hunt calendar to be exclusively contested by juveniles.

Race odds: 7/4 Apple’s Shakira, 7/2 Redicean, 6/1 Stormy Ireland, 7/1 Farclas, 7/1 Mr Adjudicator, 10/1 Saldier, 16/1 Sussex Ranger, 25/1 Sayo, 33/1 Gumball

The Duke says: Gold Cup Day is finally here and from a betting perspective we’ve got a great chance to dive in to some excellent quality races. The opener may be one of the easier races, as Apple’s Shakira should have the necessary quality to win the Triumph Hurdle. This race probably doesn’t have the strength in depth of other years, so Nicky Henderson can add yet another win in this race to his extensive collection. Apple’s Shakira has impressed in her starts to date and looks firmly the one to beat. She hasn’t beaten a whole deal though, which is the only thing that doesn’t strengthen her claims even further. Mr Adjudicator and Farclas are closely matched on Irish form, while former Flat recruit Redicean has been in great form at Kempton, including an Adonis Hurdle win. However, I think favourite backers can get off to a good start.

The Duke picks: Apple’s Shakira

2.10pm County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f

Last year’s winner: Arctic Fire 20/1

The first County Hurdle was run in 1920 and won by Trespasser, ridden by George Duller, who until 1973 also had a race named after him at Cheltenham’s premier meeting. The Mullins family have an exceptional record, with brothers Tony (2007 Pedrobob), Willie (2010 Thousand Stars and 2011 Final Approach) and Tom (2012 Alderwood) all having trained winners of the race.

For many years the County Hurdle was traditionally the last race to be run at the Festival. However, a new running order was announced ahead of the 2009 meeting, and it is now the second race on the final day.

Race odds: 12/1 Flying Tiger, 12/1 Bleu Et Rouge, 12/1 Smaoineamh Alainn, 12/1 Duca De Thaix, 12/1 Chesterfield, 14/1 A Hare Breath, 14/1 Meri Devie, 14/1 Ivanovich Gorbatov, 14/1 Whiskey Sour, 14/1 Sandsend, 16/1 Moon Racer, 16/1 Ben Dundee, 20/1 Spiritofthegames, 20/1 Mohaayed, 20/1 Lagostovegas, 25/1 Jenkins, 25/1 William H Bonney, 25/1 Le Richebourg, 25/1 Tigris River, 33/1 All Set To Go, 33/1 Brahms De Clermont, 33/1 Remiluc, 33/1 Sternrubin, 33/1 Divin Bere, 33/1 Brelade, 50/1 Krugermac(reserve), 50/1 I Shot The Sheriff

The Duke says: Next up is the County Hurdle. While many will look at this and think it’s a tricky race, I’m quite confident in each-way Whisky Sour. He’s won a Grade 1 (admittedly quite luckily) and although he is perhaps pitched in a little against more experienced rivals, the form of his fourth to Samcro could hardly look much better. I also like Bleu Et Rouge, who finished second to Kalashnikov at Newbury – again that form is looking decent – while I also think Sandsend remains with bags of potential. One who looks to have snuck under the radar a bit is Divin Bere. He went off favourite for the Fred Winter last year and finished a narrow runner-up. He runs off a similar mark here and Paul Nicholls is good at placing his horses. While his recent form has been dire, it’s fair to say if he handles the ground conditions we could see a much better run than 33/1.

The Duke picks: Whisky Sour e/w and Divin Bere e/w

2.50pm Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m

Last year’s winner: Penhill 16/1

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is run over three miles and was added to The Festival in 2005 when the meeting expanded to four days.

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has proved to be a good pointer to the RSA Chase in recent years. Bobs Worth and Weapon’s Amnesty, who captured the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle went on to win the RSA Chase the following season.

Race odds: 5/1 Chef des Obeaux, 5/1 Santini, 6/1 Chris’s Dream, 12/1 Ok Corral, 12/1 Poetic Rhythm, 14/1 Ballyward, 14/1 Calett Mad, 14/1 Mr Whipped, 16/1 Real Steel, 16/1 Paisley Park, 20/1 Talkischeap, 20/1 Enniscoffey Oscar, 20/1 Dortmund Park, 20/1 Tower Bridge, 28/1 Kilbricken Storm, 33/1 Mulcahys Hill, 33/1 Beyond The Law, 33/1 Fabulous Saga, 40/1 Robin Waters, 50/1 Crucial Role

The Duke says: At 2.50pm it’s the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Tower Bridge had a couple of this field in behind him last time and while it wasn’t the strongest Grade 1 you’ll ever see, he is improving and Joseph O’Brien is already proving himself to be a very shrewd trainer. Poetic Rhythm didn’t win the strongest Challow Novices’ Hurdle and he’s more exposed than many of the others in this field, but if it comes down to a battle, he’s got a fantastic attitude. I’ll certainly be cheering him on as my family are involved with him. Chris’s Dream won by an unfeasible margin at Clonmel last time and you just feel the length that he won by was too good to be true. Ballyward has some potential at this longer trip and at 16/1 he has a shout, as does Ok Corral who won at Kempton last time out. Santini carries good form in to the race having won a Grade 2 on heavy ground at Cheltenham last time out. That race is working out really well and he had also beaten Chef Des Obeaux the time before that. Santini gets the win vote, but take your pick from the others mentioned for each-way options.

The Duke picks: Santini

3.30pm £575,000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2½f

Last year’s winner: Sizing John 7/1

The first horse race known as the Cheltenham Gold Cup took place in July 1819. It was a flat race and it was contested over 3 miles on Cleeve Hill which overlooks the present venue.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run as a jumps race on 12 March 1924.

This is the race the sport’s greats have to win to be considered a great and if you win this multiple winners you are a true legend like Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle, L’Escargot, Best Mate and Kauto Star

Race odds: 4/1 Native River, 4/1 Might Bite, 5/1 Our Duke, 8/1 Definitly Red, 9/1 Killultagh Vic, 10/1 Road To Respect, 14/1 Total Recall, 14/1 Edwulf, 20/1 American, 25/1 Minella Rocco, 33/1 Bachasson, 33/1 Anibale Fly, 33/1 Djakadam, 33/1 Outlander, 50/1 Double Shuffle, 66/1 Tea For Two, 80/1 Shantou Flyer, 80/1 Saphir Du Rheu

The Duke says: The Gold Cup is always a fantastic race and this year is no exception. If there is a superstar in the line-up then it is Might Bite. He won the RSA Chase at the Festival last year and having won the King George, he is firmly the horse to beat. I think he’d prefer quicker ground, but that’s not to say he won’t handle the more testing conditions. Killultagh Vic probably would have won the Irish Gold Cup last time out had he not fallen, so rates a chance here, as does Road To Respect who has improved quite a bit this season. Definitly Red will love a test, as he demonstrated in the Cotswold Chase and he’s good value. I can see him hitting the frame at least. Native River is also suited by a marathon and was third in last year’s Gold Cup. Having tipped up Our Duke in this column at 20/1 prior to his victory in the Red Mills Chase, that form looks really good with runner-up Presenting Percy already winning the RSA Chase at this Festival. We know he stays having won the Irish Grand National last year, he jumps really well and the ground shouldn’t be an issue. Our Duke is our tip for this year’s Gold Cup.

The Duke picks: Our Duke 

4.10pm £45,000 St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2½f

Last year’s winner: Pacha Du Polder 16/1

The event is contested over the same course and distance as the Gold Cup and it is sometimes referred to as the “amateur Gold Cup”. It was established in 1904.

Qualification for entry in the Foxhunter Chase is based on a horse’s previous performances in certain types of race within a specific period.

Race odds: 3/1 Burning Ambition, 6/1 Wonderful Charm, 8/1 Foxrock, 12/1 Virak, 14/1 Volnay De Thaix, 14/1 Caid Du Berlais, 14/1 Pacha Du Polder, 14/1 On The Fringe, 14/1 Sir Jack Yeats, 16/1 Balnaslow, 16/1 Minella For Value, 16/1 Grand Vision, 20/1 Unioniste, 25/1 Top Wood, 25/1 Barel Of Laughs, 33/1 Cousin Pete, 33/1 Young Hurricane, 33/1 Warden Hill, 40/1 Wells De Lune, 40/1 Shotavodka, 50/1 Shantou Magic, 66/1 Saddlers Encore, 66/1 Premier Portrait, 100/1 Vincitore

The Duke says: The Foxhunter is a tricky one, but Burning Ambition looks a bit short at the head of the market. He is progressive but there are some very solid rivals in opposition. Foxrock is definitely one to consider, having been placed in Grade 1s earlier in his career. He’s got a great record in hunter chases and has the benefit of the excellent Katie Walsh in the saddle. On The Fringe has a good record in the race and is also partnered by one of Ireland’s leading ladies, Nina Carberry. Paul Nicholls is good at training for this race and he has a quartet to consider, with Unioniste, Virak, last year’s winner Pacha Du Polder and perhaps his best chance might lie with Wonderful Charm. I think we’ll see Sam Waley-Cohen in the winners’ enclosure with this one. He was a good second in last year’s race and he looks in decent form having won at Musselburgh.

The Duke picks: Wonderful Charm 

4.50pm £65,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4½f

Last year’s winner: Champagne Classic 12/1

Run for the first time in 2009, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is named after one the greatest trainers of modern times, who retired at the end of the 2005/06 season.

The race is restricted to conditional jockeys.

Race odds: 6/1 Flawless Escape, 9/1 Diese Des Bieffes, 10/1 Sire du Berlais, 11/1 Deal D’Estruval, 12/1 Blow By Blow, 14/1 Early Doors, 14/1 Carter McKay, 14/1 Burrows Saint, 16/1 Coeur De Lion, 16/1 Mr Big Shot, 16/1 Brave Eagle, 16/1 Dream Berry, 20/1 Tommy Rapper, 20/1 Lough Derg Spirit, 20/1 Melrose Boy, 25/1 Arthington, 25/1 Kildisart(reserve), 25/1 Delire d’Estruval, 25/1 Arthur’s Gift(reserve), 25/1 No Hassle Hoff, 25/1 Discorama, 25/1 Brelan d’As, 25/1 Brillare Momento, 33/1 Poppy Kay, 33/1 Amour de Nuit, 33/1 Flaxen Flare

The Duke says: The penultimate race of the Festival is the Martin Pipe and the shortlist could look more like a long list if I named all the ones with chances. Dream Berry was in good form in handicaps last year and should be respected, while fellow JP McManus horse Early Doors appears to be on a favourable mark for one who finished second in a novice Grade 1 in December. Carter McKay has also been mixing it in better company recently, so has strong claims. Mr Big Shot runs for David Pipe and I’m sure he’d love to win this race. He’s easily won his three starts to date, despite those runs being spread over a fair period of time. He’s been off since April, but he may well have been primed for a big run. For each-way players Blow By Blow has plenty of ability, having won a Grade 1 bumper and coming in to the race after a wide margin win at Thurles. He looks a bit overpriced, despite the fact he has to give away weight to the rest of the field.

The Duke picks: Blow by Blow e/w

5.30pm £105,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m ½

Last year’s winner: Rock the World 10/1

The Grand Annual is the oldest race at the Festival, and it is also the oldest chase in the present National Hunt calendar. It was first run in April 1834.

The running order of the races at the Cheltenham Festival was altered slightly in 2009, and the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase is now the last event on the final day.

Race odds: 8/1 Theinval, 9/1 North Hill Harvey, 9/1 Dont Touch It, 9/1 Vaniteux, 14/1 Valdez, 14/1 Dolos, 14/1 Bouvreuil, 16/1 Le Prezien, 16/1 Bun Doran, 16/1 Townshend, 20/1 Gino Trail, 20/1 Some Plan, 20/1 Rock The World, 20/1 Forest Bihan, 20/1 Top Gamble, 20/1 Sizing Platinum, 25/1 Born Survivor, 25/1 Foxtail Hill, 25/1 Garde La Victoire, 25/1 Eastlake, 25/1 Dresden, 25/1 Three Stars, 25/1 Vosne Romanee, 33/1 Doitforthevillage, 33/1 The Game Changer, 33/1 Bright New Dawn

The Duke says: The lucky last is the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual. JP McManus has a hatful of chances. Rock The World won this last year but is a bit higher in the weights this time round. Don’t Touch It is fancied in the market, with Le Prezien the choice of Barry Geraghty. Eastlake has earned me a few quid in the past watching for when he’s likely to strike and he could do it here at 33/1. He’s had a wind op and he’s on a winning mark. I’ll also be backing Bouvreuil, who has placed at the last three Festivals and is feasibly treated again. Garde La Victoire is a good horse but has a tough task off top weight and I prefer the look of North Hill Harvey. The cheek-pieces go on for the first time, which might help him focus a bit and if they work as intended, he is a graded performer in a handicap. He also has a good record on soft ground at Cheltenham over hurdles. Eastlake, Bouvreuil and North Hill Harvey to be the first three home then in the lucky last!

The Duke picks: North Hill Harvey win, Bouvreuil e/w

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