Our Ben Linfoot is blogging live from the track on Cheltenham Gold Cup day on the final day of the 2018 Festival. Follow it throughout here.
Contents of Post
Cheltenham Festival: Day Four LIVE!
All times GMT
1527: NEARLY OFF FOR THE GOLD CUP
They’re parading in front of the stands for the 2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. This really should be a wonderful race. Might Bite is the big enigma – can he hold it together up the hill? Will the relentless galloping of Native River prevail? Can Our Duke jump like he did at Fairyhouse? Can Willie Mullins break his Gold Cup hoodoo with one of four from Closutton? Is Road To Respect the one after all after the Balko Des Flos form boost? Can American or Definitly Red come from the Cotswold Chase and win? Can Gordon Elliott win the Gold Cup despite not having a runner? All will be revealed shortly… good luck with your bets (come on Dukey).
1518: GOLD CUP TIPS
1515: FEHILY GOOD OUTSIDER?
Spare a though for Noel Fehily, who was meant to ride Our Duke in the Gold Cup today. Only a late setback for Sizing John saw him replaced by the main man at Jessie Harrington’s stable, Robbie Power.
But could that twist of fate work in Fehily’s favour? Harry Fry has supplemented AMERICAN for this on the back of the weather forecast and this fragile but talented horse lines up in the big one on his preferred ground this afternoon.
An eight-length second to Definitly Red in the Cotswold Chase here on trials day, that was his first completed start of the season having being pulled up in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Should he be four times the price of Definitly Red? He might’ve been getting 4lb that day, but probably not. He’s interesting.
American: Gets his ground in the Gold Cup
1502: TIZZARD WHIPS UP A STORM
Colin Tizzard gets on the board at the Festival with Kilbricken Storm, a 33/1 outsider. He was third in the Challow when last seen, a 23-length third, and if you saw this coming you’re doing very well.
Nicky Henderson is not having a good day as he trained the second and third home. Will things turn for him in the upcoming Gold Cup.
As for Fabulous Saga, it was a bit like this for me: “Here we go. Kick on Saga. Go on Fabulous. Oi oi! Not too far Danny! Go on Fabulous. Keep going Fab. Go on Fab. Hold on for a place Fab. Hold on for a…. oh.”
RESULT 2.10 Cheltenham – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
1st KILBRICKEN STORM (33/1)
2nd OK Corral (16/1)
3rd Santini (11/4 fav)
1447: SPUD RACE ANGLES
Albert Bartlett next. If you think that class and staying power will rise to the fore in the soft ground you’re probably with Santini or Chef Des Obeaux. If you’re thinking experience is vital in this race as it so often is you’re probably with Poetic Rhythm or Calett Mad. If you’re looking at what’s happened at Cheltenham this week you’re probably perming all of Willie Mullins’ and Gordon Elliott’s (just the four in this race, three for Mullins, one for Elliott). And if you’re looking at key race trends you have to be with Fabulous Saga (see 1255 update).
1444: GOLD CUP GREATS: DESERT ORCHID
Okay, Dessie was the King of Kempton. But that he managed to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989 despite not being ideally suited to the track was one of THE great Gold Cup moments. What a superstar.
Desert Orchid winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup
1432: DEFINITLY MAYBE IN GOLD CUP?
Mark Erler says: “Hi Ben, I know you think Our Duke will win but I have the feeling that Definitly Red is a big danger to everyone else. He”ll handle the ground and I can see him running a big race.
What do you think about his chances??”
Hi Mark, there is plenty to like about him. Like you say he’ll go on the ground, he’ll stay, he likes the track and he’s in the form of his life. He’s been very well backed and is 9/1 now as well. Personally, I think he’s very short at that price. I’m not sure he’s got the class to win a Gold Cup. Mind you, I said that about Lord Windermere!
1426: PIC: MOHAAYED STORMS TO VICTORY
The County Hurdle field on Gold Cup day
1420: SKELTON LANDS COUNTY AGAIN
Dan Skelton won the County Hurdle in 2016 and he’s done it again two years on with MOHAAYED, registering a first Festival success for jockey Bridget Andrews.
The brilliantly consistent and game Remiluc was second but, by the muted response from the crowd, not many in attendance found the first two. There was a huge roar when Whiskey Sour came through with his run, but he had to settle for third ahead of Chesterfield.
Brelade did travel well, but he couldn’t go with them up the hill and he finished seventh. Of course he finished seventh.
RESULT 2.10 Cheltenham – Randox Health County Hurdle
1st MOHAAYED (33/1)
2nd Remiluc (50/1)
3rd Whiskey Sour (7/1)
4th Chesterfield (16/1)
1407: COUNTY BOUNTY?
Everyone remembers Harchibald in the 2005 Champion Hurdle. Paul Carberry motionless in Des Sharkey’s purple ‘n’ gold silks, Hardy Eustace in his back pocket, just the button to press. If you need a refresher, watch the YouTube video below. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t win.
Well I’m hoping Mark Enright can get Brelade, in the same Des Sharkey silks, to travel like that in the County Hurdle next up. It’s his handicap debut, he has classy back form, he’s trained by the man who can do no wrong. He’ll do for me.
If its not his day, my second stab at the County is Smaoineamh Alainn, which Twitter tells me is pronounced ‘Smeenev Alling’. Go on the Robert Walford-trained mare.
2005 Champion Hurdle
1355: TODAY’S SCENE
Here’s a view of the Cheltenham parade ring as they went out for the Triumph. Given how long it took me to get from said parade ring back to the press room I’d say it’s unlikely there will be any more shots from me this afternoon. It’s busy out there. And safer in here. Drink it in.
A view of the Cheltenham parade ring, Gold Cup day 2018
1350: FARCLAS TRIUMPHS FOR ELLIOTT
There is simply no stopping Gordon Elliott as the Spring Juvenile form comes to the fore in the Triumph, his Farclas reversing Leopardstown placings with Mr Adjudicator.
Stormy Ireland was lit up at the head of affairs but they went no gallop in this with half the field pulling for their heads throughout. Apple’s Shakira was one of those, she needed a decent gallop against this lot and she didn’t get it.
The Irish continue to dominate. Even Nicky Henderson can’t lay a glove on them with a big gun now. Let’s see if he can get involved as the afternoon progresses, as he’s got a few bullets to fire yet.
RESULT 1.30 Cheltenham – JCB Triumph Hurdle
1st FARCLAS (9/1)
2nd Mr Adjudicator (8/1)
3rd Sayo (33/1)
Not long to the JCB Triumph Hurdle now. Apple’s Shakira is your heavily-backed 6/5 favourite. Her jockey and trainer Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson are pictured here just minutes ago.
‘Play it cool, Barry. Play it cool.’
Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson in deep discussion
1305: GOLD CUP GREATS: DAWN RUN
Dawn Run. The only horse ever to win the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup. A superb mare, here she is under jockey Jonjo O’Neill just after winning the 1986 Gold Cup.
Jonjo O’Neill celebrates after winning the 1986 Gold Cup aboard Dawn Run
1300: UH OH, HERE COMES TROUBLE
Can Native River give jockey Richard Johnson his second win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup today following Looks Like Trouble 18 years ago?
He’s disputing second-favouritsim behind Might Bite with Our Duke, he’s got his ground, he looked in good nick at Newbury. I can see why plenty of people like him.
1255: FABULOUS OUTSIDER IN THE SPUD RACE
Okay, so I have become a bit obsessed with THAT Limerick Novice Hurdle, but with good reason. After this season’s second, Delta Work, won the Pertemps Final yesterday, the race has now produced FIVE Festival winners in the last decade.
One of those was Faugheen, but the other three went on to win the Albert Bartlett having won THAT Limerick novice hurdle at Christmas; Weapon’s Amnesty, Martello Tower and Penhill.
So, with the Delta Work form boost, I’ve had a few quid on this year’s winner of THAT Limerick novice hurdle, FABULOUS SAGA.
He ran a crazy race at Limerick. Tried to make all, headed, four lengths down, rallied, won going away by four lengths. He looks like he’ll stay four miles and he was badly done for speed/class at the DRF last time. But, at 33s, I can forgive him that.
1245: ALL OF OUR TIPS IN ONE PLACE
1240: ON THE COUCH WITH TODAY’S TIPS
Oli Bell and Ed Chamberlin have put the hours in on ITV Racing this week but before that, when they were fresh faced, they joined Dave and I on the couch with today’s best bets…
1230: MONEY BACK IF YOU BACK A LOSER
I believe this is what the kids call a ‘no brainer’. The First Race Specials at Sky Bet have gone down well all week and you’ve still an hour to take advantage of today’s – Money Back If You Back A Loser in the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30, up to £20, Ts and Cs apply.
Where would I stick my £20? Well, I fancy Apple’s Shakira, but if you get your money back I’d place it on Stormy Ireland at 7/1. She really could be anything and, as an Apple’s backer, I fear her most.
1222: GOLD CUP GREATS: ARKLE
The magnificent Arkle. Won three Gold Cups from 1964-66. Rated 212 by Timeform, the highest figure given to any chaser in the history of their numbers.
Arkle winning the 1964 Gold Cup, his first of three
1210: MARKET MOVERS
Alan from The Hangover brings us today’s movers and shakers live from the track. All the stars are here today.
1205: GOLD CUP TIPS
I’ve backed Our Duke in the Gold Cup. We had three superb novice chasers last season – Thistlecrack who won the King George, Might Bite who won the RSA and Our Duke who won the Irish National. For me, Our Duke’s Fairyhouse effort off a mark of 153 marked him out as the standout future Gold Cup star from that trio.
He jumped brilliantly that day. He hasn’t done since, but he did that day. He stays forever. Last time, he beat subsequent RSA Chase hero Presenting Percy, giving him weight over 2m4f, despite another fencing error.
If he can get into a rhythm and cut out the mistakes today, and I think he will over this trip on this ground, then he can go close. He’s the only one I want to back. I wonder what Dave and Rich in the office think?
1155: SHAKIRA! SHAKIRA!
Apple’s Shakira has been backed for the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle like defeat is out of the question. She was 2/1 yesterday, but she’s now 6/5. This could be stable confidence, it could be that the multis are stacking up after a lot of short-priced favourites winning throughout the week. Like Footpad, Buveur d’Air, Samcro, Presenting Percy, Altior. Whatever it is, she’s very short now considering it’s very difficult to weigh her up chance against the Irish.
I am a fan, though. I think she’ll be better in this better race. She has been keen in her trials but still come home full of running. We’ll get to find out just how good she is today. Plenty of punters here will be banking on her, as it looks decidedly more difficult after the opener.
Apple’s Shakira: Can she win her fourth race at Cheltenham from four goes at 1.30?
1143: GOLD CUP GREATS: GOLDEN MILLER
Won five Gold Cups in a row from 1932-36. He even won the National as well in 1934. Interesting fact: He was bred by Barry Geraghty’s grandfather, Laurence.
Golden Miller: Cheltenham Gold Cup legend
1125: NUMBERS GAME
Look, Carol Vorderman was here yesterday with a Cheltenham legend. I bet she cracked the Brown Advisory with her analytical brain. As for Michael Dickinson, his first-five-home-record-in-the-Gold-Cup is safe today, but Willie Mullins could almost ‘do a Dickinson’ as he has four runners. I’m sure a few punters will be putting Killultagh Vic, Total Recall, Bachasson and Djakadam in some combo trifectas, just in case.
The only one of those with Gold Cup experience is Djakadam and he’ll be aiming to ‘do a The Fellow’ this afternoon, a horse that won the big one at the fourth attempt having finished 2-2-4 the previous three years.
Djakadam’s Gold Cup form figures? 2-2-4. He’s still only nine and if you haven’t lost the faith he’s 25/1 with Sky Bet (paying FIVE places on each-way bets).
1115: GROUND CONDITIONS
So, there was a bit of rain overnight. We are Soft, Heavy in places but the sun is beating down on track and the crowds are swarming in once again. The attendances this week have been phenomenal.
Here’s Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, on the latest conditions: “Today is the biggest day of The Festival with the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup set to go off at 3.30pm.
“What a fantastic day we had yesterday on St Patrick’s Thursday with a massive crowd of 66,000. The ground was Soft, Heavy in places and interestingly the jockeys said that after the 10 millimetres of rain that had fallen, it rode better than the first two days and was not as tiring.
“Overnight we had three millimetres of rain and I have left the ground as Soft, Heavy in places on both the Chase and Hurdle courses.
“On the Chase course, we have opened up six to seven yards of fresh ground on the inside which has not been raced on since Gold Cup Day last year.”
Today is forecast to be dry, with bright spells and temperatures of 11 to 12 degrees Celsius.
1105: CHELTENHAM BREAKFAST
I have been ‘Facebook Live-ing’ this morning at a country house near the track for Sky Bet talking all things Cheltenham. Bearded face of Sky Bet Michael Shinners was on the plush leather couch along with Head of PR Sandro di Michele, a man who looked like he’s been at the Cheltenham Festival every day for the last three weeks.
You can watch it here:
1100: HELLO. IT’S GOLD CUP DAY.
Good morning everyone live from the Cheltenham Festival on one of the most exciting days in the National Hunt calendar. Cheltenham Gold Cup day.
Golden Miller. Arkle. Dawn Run. Desert Orchid. Best Mate. Kauto Star. Not bars at Cheltenham or statues – although most of them have at least one of those – but some of the greats of the game that have won this supreme test of class, stamina, strength, constitution. You need the lot to win this beast of a race, especially today in the conditions, where they’ll go a hell-for-leather gallop for over 3m2f.
We’ll be discussing which horse might well etch their name into Gold Cup folklore today throughout, tweet us @sportinglife or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Gold Cup fancies, stories, hunches, anything you like. It’s going to be a belter.