Tony Elves wraps up his Cheltenham diary series with a round-up of his festival portfolio.
We put our eggs in the Colin Tizzard basket at a very earlier stage when Gold Cup odds of 14-1 were available for Cue Card and following his triumphs in Charlie Hall, Betfair Chase and the King George he probably goes to Cheltenham as the horse with the least number of question marks over him. The operation on his epiglottis has obviously been a huge success and he looked brimful of energy and bursting to go when galloping at Kempton recently. As a past winner of the Cheltenham Champion bumper and the Ryanair Chase he knows all about the rigours of the hill and he is now generally around an 11-2 shot and let’s hope Paddy Brennan can get him into a nice rhythm to deliver the good.
From the same stable, Thistlecrack was nominated as the bet when a 9-1 shot for the World Hurdle and as Gordon Elliot pointed out some weeks ago if he had been trained by Willie Mullins the bookmakers would have made him odds-on for that race. He was selected after winning the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury at the end of December and, following victory in the Grade 1 Long Walk at Ascot and the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, now stands as an even money shot for the big day.
Thankfully and, quite rightly, connections have taken the decision to run More Of That in the RSA Chase so those of you with vouchers at the suggested odds of 6-1 for that race will be delighted. The former winner of the World Hurdle has won both of his novices chases at Cheltenham and his 13 length victory from Sametegal was given plenty of sheen when that horse won a valuable Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday. He now stands a best-priced 11-4 and even that is starting to look inviting.
Seeyouatmidnight was an each way selection for the RSA at 16-1 and Sandy Thomson’s stable star, as suggested, provided the necessary fuel for investment when taking the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Further experience was gained at Newcastle at the end of last month and he is now a 10-1 shot for the RSA.
Ivanovich Gorbatov was selected for the Triumph Hurdle at 12-1 after an impressive debut success at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting before the money came tumbling and, despite a defeat in heavy ground at the same course in February, the money has come back with him after an initial drift and he is as low as 3-1 with Ladbrokes.
Zubayr made an eyecatcing debut in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last month, a race that stable mate Zarkandar also took en route to festival glory and he was given as the alternative at odds of 6-1.
Willie Mullins has so many irons in the fire that 6-4 to have 10 or more winners seemed a reasonable bet and let’s hope he elects to stay with NH Chase for Black Hercules. This normally reliable jumper was in command when falling at the last over three miles at Navan in February and had earlier been selected for the four-miler at 9-1. He remains a 4-1 shot for the race with Mullins also mulling over the JLT and RSA Chase.
Another alternative was Don Poli at 15-2 for the Gold Cup and this lazy individual could well be right in the mix on the big day for which he now stands a general 11-2 poke.
The ability was there for all to see with Yanworth and Barters Hill but it looks like suggested bets could go by the wayside as the Supreme Novices and Neptune, respectively, were believed to be the targets at time of writing but subsequent events have proved otherwise. We still have the Buveur D’Air (8-1) for the Supreme and a saver on Min at 7-4 and a speculative 20-1 for Cardinal Walter in the County Hurdle and 50-1 about Mystical Knight for the Albert Bartlett.
It has been fascinating analysing and writing this column in the build up to the festival and we just need that all in important element of good luck to make it a week to remember.