Presenting Percy, fancied to win the Gold Cup on Friday
We've been here before and after all the deliberating of the last few months, the 2019 Cheltenham Festival is now here. Ireland’s chances of a good week are again looking extremely positive with the main questions being whether we can regain both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. And what about the other 26 races too?
Well, let’s find out.
With no Willie Mullins trained short-priced favourite for the first time since 2013, that tells you everything about this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The home team have a strong squad but it’s with Grand Saucy which I think they’ll strike first. A Kingwell Hurdle winner in this race for the red-hot Paul Nicholls? He’ll do for me ahead of Klassical Dream.
Where do you start with the Arkle Trophy?
To be honest, it’s got the look of a shock result and maybe Articulum could run well at a very big price. However, it’s Glen Forsa for Mick Channon and he can make it 2-0 to England on the day.
The Champion Hurdle is potentially the race of the week and I’m sticking to my gut feeling that Apple’s Jade just isn’t at her best around Prestbury Park.
Buveur D’Air is the defending dual champ and has to be respected but his form is questionable and Laurina still has to prove how good she is. However, it’s Willie Mullins mare which I’m favouring over Buveur D’Air and take Espoir D’Allen to run into the money too.
It’s hard to see Benie Des Dieux not winning the OLBG Mares Hurdle and in fact, she’s the banker on day one.
In the Ultima Handicap Chase, Noble Endeavour, third in this race two years ago, looks like he’s been laid out for this race while in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, Highway One O One looks capable of carrying top weight to victory.
As for the National Hunt Chase, it’s Discorama for Paul Nolan to give the Wexford trainer a welcome Chelten-
Tuesday's tips: Grand Saucy, Glen Forsa, Noble Endeavour, Laurina, Benie Des Dieux, Highway One O One, Discorama.
There’s no Samcro this time around in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle but Battle-
overdoyen might still be good enough to give victory to the Gigginstown team. The vibes are very strong about Gordon Elliott’s star novice.
The RSA Chase won’t have a big field and it is here where my best bet of the entire week lines up in Delta Work. I just can’t see him getting beaten.
I’m expecting Paul Nicholls to have a big week and he’s got a great chance of taking the Coral Cup with Brio Conti, who’s got the right profile for this race and is a horse in form. Farclas looks the best of our chances here.
Come the Queen Mother Champion Chase, there’s no point in backing Altior but Ordinary World is a horse which can be hunted around before picking up a place. He’s been in the frame in six Grade 1 races would you believe.
Is Tiger Roll a good thing in the Cross Country Chase? He probably is but he just needs to avoid bad luck and anything can happen over the 3m6f here. Bless The Wings to perhaps run into a place behind Tiger Roll is worth an each-way bet.
Band Of Outlaws is heavily touted for the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle but he might have to play second fiddle to Dogon, which might be well handicapped for Paul Nicholls.
And what about the Champion Bumper?
It’s been a long time since Willie Mullins had just the one runner in the race but Blue Sari, and Barry Geraghty, might be worth the wait. His Gowran Park rout still stands out in my mind.
Wednesday's tips: Battle-
overdoyen, Delta Work (NAP), Brio Conti, Ordinary World (e/w), Bless The Wings (e/w), Dogon, Blue Sari.
Ireland have a brilliant record in the JLT Novices’ Chase but we’ll struggle this year. There has been very little between Defi du Seuil and Lostintranslation this season but JP McManus’ charge has arguably been getting better as the season has progressed and he’s the most likely winner.
The Pertemps Final has been kind to us in recent years too and while he’s the most obvious pick, Sire Du Berlais looks to have been laid out perfectly for this race.
The Ryanair Chase looks one of the races of the week and there are loads of Irish chances here.
What about Coney Island at a big price? He wouldn’t have to improve much on his best form to go close here. If you want to take on a favourite this week, then Paisley Park is the one. He won’t know what hit him when he lines up against proper opposition on Thursday and in Faugheen, he deserves one more chance to show what a wonderful horse he is. It’s Faugheen for me with Bacardys to follow him home.
Eamon An Cnoic, if he gets in, might be worth a second look in the Brown Advisory Plate and Epatante in the Mares Novice Hurdle looks the ticket as well.
As for the Kim Muir, take Measureofmydreams for team Elliott.
Thursday's tips: Defi du Seuil, Sire Du Berlais, Coney Island (e/w), Faugheen, Eamon An Cnoic, Epatante, Measureofmydreams.
The majority of punters’ week will hinge on Sir Erec and it’s near impossible to oppose him on what he’s done. He could put up something sensational in Friday’s Triumph Hurdle too and he’s most definitely the one. Ireland can’t win all of the handicaps this week and while our County Hurdle record is quite good, Malaya might be hard to beat if his Imperial Cup win is anything to go by.
I do think Ireland have a great chance of winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and I’m split between Derinross and Dinons.
Both have excellent chances with maybe the latter just having the edge on experience.
Then to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Can Presenting Percy really win it?
I really think he can and his Cheltenham record speaks for itself. Presenting Percy to beat Bellshill and Al Boum Photo for a 1-2-3 for Ireland.
Like Presenting Percy, Shantou Flyer has an excellent Cheltenham record so he’ll do for me in the Christies Foxhunters’ Chase while in the Johnny Hender-
son Grand Annual Handicap Chase, Magic Saint can add to a brilliant week for Paul Nicholls.
And in the festival finale, take a chance that Acapella Bourgeois is prepped to perfection for Willie Mullins.
Friday tips: Sir Erec, Malaya, Dinons, Presenting Percy, Shantou Flyer, Magic Saint (NB), Acapella Bourgeois.