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|Cheltenham Blog - Final Day, Friday 18th March 2011|
|DATE POSTED: 18/03/2011|
Will it be a
huge resurgence with Denman and Kauto Star dueling it out, or will
Imperial Commander continue to dominate...
Into the final day of this great festival of National Hunt racing. I have a feeling there will be far less surprises today than we have seen in previous days, at least I hope there will be! There is some excellent racing today to round off the week.
The first race on the final day is the TRIUMPH HURDLE. There are very few clues to be gained from the limited amount of form on offer but I feel everything points towards UNACCOMPANIED (7/1). She is un-beaten over hurdles in two starts, is still progressing, handles any going and with the fillies and mares weight allowance, she is best in at the weights. She should gives us a good start to the day
The second race on the card is the COUNTY HURDLE. In this 28 runner, highly competitive race FINAL APPROACH (12/1) is the each way selection. He won is previous start, is in off of a fair enough mark and will be suited by any easing in the ground. This could well be another winner for the Irish who have done well in this race in previous years.
The ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICE HURDLE form race three of the card. COURT IN MOTION (9/1) is taken to win the tricky looking novice hurdle. As he stays the trip, goes on the ground and has progressed well through the entire season. His defeat last time can be forgiven as he was giving the very useful looking winner 7lbs in heavy ground. He has no weight to concede today. He also beat AL FEROF in December who went on to win the opening race on Tuesday.
The highlight of the day, week and season is the fourth race on the card, the CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP. I will not beat about the bush, DENMAN (7/1). This is the first season that he has had an un-interrupted campaign since he won the race back in 2008. It was always the plan to come here fresh. He has also had a breathing operation this season, which although may not bring more improvement it certainly will not do any harm. Any forecast rain will be massively in his favour.
This race I believe will be a statistics buster, as the stats that says horses older than 10 can not win the Gold Cup is no longer valid in my opinion. Horses simply are not campaigned as they used to be, they race very few times in a season and are kept fresh in order to preserve the fuel in the tank. I am slightly bullish about Denman this year as I have a vision in my head of the ground turning soft and him just galloping all of his rivals into the ground C'MON THE TANK!
For those of you who like to risk small for big returns, my each way selection in the Gold Cup is TIDAL BAY (20/1). This horse has all the ability in the world but doesn't always choose to show it. But at the odds he is worth a small risk.
The fifth race is the FOXHUNTERS CHASE (the Amateurs Gold Cup). Last years winner BABY RUN (7/2) is taken to regain his crown. He has been campaigned in a similar fashion to last year and with ticks in all the correct boxes should come out on top. He will have the assistance of the very useful looking Willy Twiston-Davies, who has done nothing but impress this season including winning on Baby Run.
The sixth race, the MARTIN PIPE HANDICAP is a relatively new race to the festival with only two previous runnings. This really is a pin in the paper race. A stab in the dark selection would be BARIZAN (25/1) as he seems to come good around this time of year. As some of you may remember he nearly stole the triumph hurdle last year under an enterprising ride. He is extremely well handicapped on his very best form and has form with Carlito Brigante who won here on Wednesday.
The final race of the day and of the festival is the GRAND ANNUAL CHASE. The selection picked to take this race is SHOREACRES (8/1) who has the services of champion jockey A P McCoy, who won on him last time out. He stays slightly further than this trip which is always a help and any rain would firm up his chance even further. He has run well at the course before including in the Champion Bumper and the Supreme Novice. As well as this he does appear to be very fairly handicapped for what he has achieved.
So that brings us to the end of the festival. I hope its has been as enjoyable for you as it has for me and I am already looking forward to next year as I have had a small ante-post bet on Time For Rupert to win the 2012 Gold Cup at a nice price of 20/1.