Cheltenham Gold Cup Day Live Blog

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TwinSpires Staff

March 14th, 2014

Wow, what a great racecall by Mark Johnson!

Lord Windermere gets the job done for jockey Davy Russell and trainer Jim Culloty--my old pal who rode Best Mate to three Cheltenham Gold Cups. Not to take anything away from the top finishers, but it did look like a bit of a pace collapse with the market leaders Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Connti taking the starch out of each other with a lot of ground left.

Let’s take care of the last three races in one shot so we start enjoying that other fine Cheltenham tradition: having a few pints!

The Fifth Race is the Foxhunter Challenge Chase going 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 110 yards (and you have to love the specificity)

The favorites look strong him and I’ll dutch them. Preference is for #12 HARBOUR COURT, who has had success on this course and distance, which is so critical. #16 ON THE FRINGE is talented enough and has been pointed for this all season.

The Sixth race is the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle going 2 9/16 miles. The pick is #4 CAID DE BERLAIS win and place (each way). He’s back over hurdles and his hurdle form is excellent – last seen fairly close at the finish to Champion Hurdle winner Jezki. #6 UNE ARTISTE has been in the top two in her last four starts and has won at the Festival before. Should be a pleasing price.

The Seventh Race, the Grand Annual Handicap Chase, aka The Get Out of Jail Stakes, spans 2 1/16th miles.

#12 NEXT SENSATION has woken up since he’s been returned to chasing. He’s up in the weights and facing a tough assignment but I still make him the pick on talent alone. I’ll also try #21 NED BUNTLINE, whose overall  form over hurdles and fences is excellent – never out of the money in 8 starts. A third to play with is #13 CLARET CLOAK, an improving novice.

Thanks for a great week!

Race 4 is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a Grade 1 Chase going 3 miles and 2 furlongs and the signature race of the Festival.

I can’t oppose the favorite here, #1 BOBS WORTH. I think he looks best on all the basic principles of handicapping and he absolutely loves Cheltenham – he’s five for five “round here” as they say.I’ll be backing him on the nose.  Let’s see if he can make it two Gold Cups is a row.

Paul Nicholls finally gets off the duck and another fantastic finish there--especially if you cashed that nice exacta!

Race 3 is the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade 1 going 3 miles. I’m keeping things simple here and betting #8 KINGS PALACE to win. He’s a stayer--critical on this course at this distance--and he’s shown some turn of foot. Add to that his flashy local wins for connections having a great meet and giddy up.

Because of the exacta bonus, I’ll also backwheel KINGS PALACE, playing a couple of extra times with favored #3 BRIAR HILL. But the hope is that he’ll just do the business outright.

We were all around that result but can’t claim it as a win the way I suggested betting it, which is frustrating because we would have had the OMNI if that were still around. Hopefully some of you got something good out of the mention of Tiger Roll anyway.

Race 2 is the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle going 2 1/8 miles.

This is another place where my picks are clustered near the top of the market but we’ll return to the exacta to try and get something out of it. The picks are #10 MINELLA FORU, who has been very impressive, #7 ARCTIC FIRE, whose race two back would make him dangerous and whose last can be excused and #18 CHELTENIAN, who won the Champion Bumper back in 2011. I’ll be boxing these. Remember there’s a 10% bonus on exacta bets today.

Gold Cup Day at last!

It was on this equivalent day back in 2004 when my then girlfriend, Susan Van Metre, and I got engaged after watching Best Mate win his historic third Gold Cup in a row. What can I say, the magic of the moment got to me I guess. Luckily for me, she said “yes,” and she still puts up with my antics to this day.

Today we’ll try to end the Festival on a strong note with an eye towards the attractive 10% exacta bonus on offer today from my gracious host this week,

Race 1 is the Triumph Hurdle, a Grade 1 for 4-year-olds going 2 1/8 miles. Barry Geraghty rides #13 ROYAL IRISH HUSSAR, who should be suited by the ground. #6 CALIPTO shows an excellent combination of class and form that make him dangerous. I’ll back those two to win and box an exacta that includes #8 GUITAR PETE who is improving and #15 TIGER ROLL, who has close-up form to Guitar Pete and also is on the upswing.