Cheltenham Festival Tips
The tips on Cheltenham-Festival.co.uk are provided by Tom Lee of RTE and Channel 4 Racing.
DAY Four (FRIDAY 18TH MARCH TIPS)
1:30 Footpad (each way) @ 10/1 with William Hill
2:10 Wait For Me (each way) @ 14/1 with Bet Victor
2:50 Shantou Village (win) @ 4/1 with Paddy Power
3:30 Recommendation: Cue Card (win) @ 4/1 with Paddy Power
4:10 On The Fringe (win) @ 3/1 with bet365
4:50 Roadie Joe (each way) @ 66/1 with Paddy Power
1.30 - JCB Triumph Hurdle
A tricky start to Gold Cup day sees the cream of the four-year-old hurdlers go to war in the Triumph Hurdle, with the betting suggesting the pick of the home team is Adonis winner Zubayr.
He looked very good at Kempton, readily coming clear in the hands of Nick Scholfield.
Nicholls also has Connectable, Frodon, Tommy Silver and the first-time hood wearer Clan Des Obeaux in a powerful quintet.
Nicky Henderson, who has enjoyed a wonderful Festival up 'til now, and who trained the 1-2-3 in 2015 has just one runner, Consul De Thaix.
However, the Irish challenge looks formidable, not least with Aidan O'Brien's Ivanovich Gorbatov bidding to redeem his reputation towards the front of the market after being shot down at 8/13 in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown.
That was the day Footpad sprang a surprise, and he looks the best of three runners for Willie Mullins.
Running in the same colours as last year's winner of this race, Peace And Co, he is joint top-rated and has the assistance of Ruby Walsh.
In Ireland he's three from four over hurdles and can improve dramatically for better ground.
In an wide open contest he looks very fair value at 10/1 each way.
Recommendation: 5 Footpad (each way) @ 10/1 with William Hill
2.10 - Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle
One of three runners for the stable in a maximum field of 26, the Philip Hobbs-trained Cheltenian heads the weights for the County, with Conor Smith claiming seven pounds.
The Minehead maestro also has Ladbroke Hurdle dead-heater Strenrubin, but his third runner is a horse I've been waiting for all season to tirn out in a contest such as this....Wait For Me.
Third in last season's Champion Bumper, his hurdling form on Soft ground has been pretty ordinary up 'til now, with a decent second to Buveir D'Air at Newbury followed by workmanlike wins at the same track, followed by Kempton.
Here though he gets a proper fast run test in a big field on spring ground, and carrying less than 11 stone he can give Richard Johnson a great spin.
In a race where the likes of Great Field, Blue Hell and All Yours are at the front of the betting Wait For Me offers excellent each way value.
Recommendation: 23 Wait For Me (each way) @ 14/1 with Bet Victor
2.50 - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Strong stayers only need apply for the Albert Bartlett, a three mile Grade 1 with a £120,000 prize fund.
After side-stepping a possible tilt at the Neptune (in which he'd have had a rematch with Yanworth) it isn't hard to make a decent case for Neil Mulholland's Shantou Village, a 146-rated six-year-old who is three from four under rules, including an impressive 15 length win here in November.
That previous course experience should stand this point-to-point winner in good stead - seven of the 11 winners of this prize to date had already run at the track.
Moreover, eight of those 11 former Albert Bartlett winners had won a Graded hurdle, happily Shantou Village qualifies having taken a Grade 2 here pre-Christmas.
He promises to be even better up in trip, and can give Mulholland a second Festival triumph after The Druids Nephew in 2015.
Recommendation: Shantou Village (win) @ 4/1 with Paddy Power
3.30 - Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
Worth a massive £575,000 overall this year, the Gold Cup looks a mouthwatering heat on paper.
The Irish challenge looks truly formidable, and though it's impossible to say if Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack would have won the King George at Christmas time had he stood up, it's certainly true to say he was in the process of running a huge race having been sent off the 15/8 favourite.
Djakadam was second in last year's race, though he subsequently found Don Cossack seven lengths too good at Punchestown, while Don Poli comes here having won five of his last six, including the Grade 1 Lexus Chase last time out.
All have the class to have a big say, but only twice in the last decade has the prize gone to Ireland, and my hunch is it'll be staying put in 2016, with 10-year-old Cue Card my idea of the winner.
Top-rated in the field off a mark of 176, let's first of all attack the elephant in the room: the notion that a 10-year-old cannot win the Gold Cup.
Since the year 2000 a weighty 65 have tried without success, but how many were as good as this fella?
He's at the peak of his considerable powers and at his very best at Cheltenham in March, having won the Champion Bumper and Ryanair Chase, as well as finishing in the money in both the Supreme Novices' and the Arkle.
That's some record, even before you drill down to this season's form...
A summer operation to rectify a trapped epiglottis has been a revelation, to such an extent that you can almost dismiss all of his previous form, with big race jockey Paddy Brennan describing him on Sunday night as having "never been better".
His progress this winter has surprised even the Tizzards, who've brought him along beautifully, securing wins in Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase, Haydock's Betfair Chase, plus the aforementioned King George.
The stats are also favourable:
8 of the last 15 Gold Cup winners had previously won at the Cheltenham Festival
9 of the last 15 hadn't been seen in the calendar year
9 of the last 12 were unproven over the trip
14 of the last 15 came from the first 3 in the betting
Recommendation: Cue Card (win) @ 4/1 with Paddy Power
4.10 - St James's Place Foxhunter Chase
The amateur's Gold Cup is another highlight of the fourth and final day of the Festival, a contest which has attracted a far higher than usual amount of publicity owing to the presence of star cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
I'd love to see her silence the doubters and knockers and put in a bold display, and in Pacha Du Polder she's on an extremely talented horse who still only nine and who was second in last year's Aintree equivalent.
The pair won easily at Wincanton 16 days ago to prove plenty of people wrong, and it'll be superb for the sport if she can hit the frame.
That might be the best she can hope for though, with last year's first and third, On The Fringe and Paint The Clouds, back for more.
Paint The Clouds went off 11/4 favourite for this race a year ago, but couldn't land a glove on On the Fringe, who went on to complete a hat-trick by taking the equivalent races at both Aintree (where he beat Pacha Du Polder) and Punchestown.
Enda Bolger's 147-rated 11-year-old obviously needed the run and didn't enjoy the deep ground when seen out last month at Leopardstown, but he'll be sharper here and can retain his crown.
Recommendation: 18 On The Fringe (win) @ 3/1 with bet365
4.50 - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
There's a hot favourite for the Martin Pipe in the form of Gordon Elliott's Squouateur, winner of three of his last four, including in a canter at Fairyhouse on Feb 20th.
Up 13 pounds for that easy victory he's got more on his plate here on much quicker ground, but he's been very highly talked up and has the assistance of ace conditional rider Jack Kennedy.
Last year's Fred Winter winner Qualando also lines up, but at 50/1 there's a chance that the Evan Williams inmate Roadie Joe can play a part back on his favoured Good ground.
Conor Ring gets the leg-up on a horse who is unbeaten on going officially termed Good, winning lesser races at Worcester, Warwick and Chepstow.
The last of those is definitely encouraging though, battling like a tiger to rally and win the Grade 2 Persian War.
The 50/1 in a race where many bookies will pay five places each way might just provide a pleasant surprise.
Recommendation: 17 Roadie Joe (each way) @ 66/1 with Paddy Power
5.30 - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase
After undergoing a recent breathing operation last year's winner Next Sensation could be very popular here, returning to the scene of his finest hour from just a one pound higher mark.
However, it's always a close run thing getting into the handicaps at the Festival, and one who has squeezed in by the width of a fine coat of paint, number 24 of 24, is legendary Irish trainer Arthur Moore's Dandridge.
Up 12 pounds for his January cruise around Doncaster where he made a mockery of a mark of 125, the seven-year-old could still be well handicapped on just his ninth try over fences.
He'll be a bit of value each way in a race where I'm going to back two, the other being Jessica Harrington's Rock The World.
Put away in October after his win at Cheltenham, he's done well over fences so far, beating the Game Changer at Galway in September, form that looks more solid given that rival's fourth placed finish in the Arkle on Tuesday.
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Cheltenham Festival - Betting Tips
Following on from last year, we are delighted to announce that we are featuring horse racing tips from Channel Four Racing presenter, Tom Lee.
Tom appears on Channel 4's Morning Line & covers live Racing in the afternoon as well fronting RTE's Racing coverage in Ireland, his Cheltenham Festival Tips and previews of each day's Racing will be available during the Festival and supported with opinions and views from our Racing writers.
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