Hare looking for a Don Cossack/Cue Card exacta in Cheltenham Gold Cup
BY CANDICE HARE
The theme of the Cheltenham meeting has been the dominance of short-priced favorites from the powerful trainer/owner pairing of Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci. Day three proved no different with Vautour – who was rerouted to the Ryanair at the last minute – and Limini thoroughly dominating their competition.
The fourth and final day of the Cheltenham festival is a seven-race card which begins with the Triumph Hurdle. We will side with Leoncavallo to hit the board at a potentially big price.
The John Ferguson-trained son of Cape Cross has been a revelation over hurdles. In terms of value, he is the clear standout as he is expected to be a big price, despite having beaten one of the favorites, Sceau Royal, at Wetherby. Leoncavallo enters here after having unseated when in contention for the victory in the local prep in December, which is a negative. His jumping is typically good, however, so we will side with him regardless.
Race four is the featured Cheltenham Gold Cup, which appears to have four primary contenders in Cue Card, Djakadam, Don Cossack and Don Poli.
Djakadam enters here off a bad fall in which he suffered minor injuries. That makes two falls in his past three runs at Cheltenham, so we will look elsewhere. Don Poli seems to prefer softer ground than he is going to get here and his grinding style may not be suited by the quicker pace of this race. Cue Card won the King George – the key form race of the season – looking every bit a transformed horse following a much needed wind operation. Two out in that race, however, Don Cossack was breathing down his neck and had momentum before his jockey unnecessarily went for too big of a jump and caused him to fall.
Don Cossack has since come back to win well and looks the class horse in this spot, so we will play him to win and in a straight exacta over Cue Card.
The festival ends with the Grand Annual in which Savello – winner of this race in 2014 – brings useful form to the table.
He has twice ran well at Cheltenham with a fourth in October and more notably a third in the Shloer Chase. Sprinter Sacre, who has since recaptured his Champion Chase crown, demolished that field, but Savello stayed on well all things considered. Savello’s Cheltenham record is a solid 4: 1-0-1-1. The quicker ground will suit, as will a larger field than he has faced in quite some time.
Race 1: Leoncavallo win/place
Race 4: Don Cossack win, exacta Don Cossack / Cue Card
Race 7: Savello win/place