SANTINI, shaken but not stirred in today’s Gold Cup.
Yes we’ve made it people to the final day of Cheltenham 2021 behind closed doors, and the big one, the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup, takes centre stage.
Al Boum Photo will be a strong favourite to land the most coveted of chases for a third time, in doing so emulating Best Mate and Arkle.
But it won’t be easy. A Plus Tard could be a revelation over this staying trip, while Champ was a top novice last season and Royale Pagaille (topically translated as ‘Royal Mess’!) could be anything.
But with drying ground and a visor on I’m backing SANTINI eachway for Nicky Henderson and Aidan Coleman.
Santini was only just touched off in last year’s renewal and on that form if he improves a bit he’s got every chance at long odds.
Those odds are because of disappointing efforts this term – but there have been reasons for each of them. I’m keeping the faith.
Proceedings get under way with the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle over 2m1f. Zanahiyr has shortened up in the betting with the Irish dominating but I was blown away with TRITONIC at Kempton last time and the conditions should be ideal.
A decent Flat performer for Alan Kong, Tritonic jumps well enough and quickened up in style to score his latest success.
It might not have been the greatest race ever, but it was hard not to be impressed and he might be too classy for this lot.
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Next a Grade 3 handicap hurdle over 2m1f. A wide open affair. I love an eclair, and ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU could be thrown in here for Denise Foster.
Once rated 153, he’s now down to 139 in the UK and his run at Leopardstown last time suggested he’s been laid out for this. Definitely worth a few quid eachway.
Before the Gold Cup back to Grade 1 company with the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle over 3m.
This could be huge for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan and their contender ALAPHILIPPE who has place claims at the very least.
The seven-year-old stays well and was impressive at Kempton last time. Decent odds considering his ability.
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After the Gold Cup is the hunter chase over an extended 3m2f. BOB AND CO could be different league to this lot.
The French import has done little wrong for Paul Nicholls and jacked up from decent rivals at Haydock last time. He’s now having his second run after a wind operation. Sean Bowen is a good booking for the ride.
The penultimate race at Cheltenham 2021 is the A Grade 2 Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase over an extended 2m4f. Elimay will be hard to beat but is at short odds and MAGIC OF LIGHT is the eachway selection.
She’s a better chaser than hurdler and couldn’t handle Roksana at Ascot last time. In relation to this lot, though, that still wasn’t hopeless for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.
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And finally Cheltenham 2021 ends with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle over an extended 2m4f. Boring, but GENTLEMAN DE MEE could be another Saint Roi and come there on the snaff.
He’s only had three runs and one in Ireland when bolting up at Naas last time. Could be chucked in for Willie Mullins.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas.
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