Alas, it was not to be for Faugheen the machine, although as always, he was admirable in defeat.
Min made up for Faugheen’s defeat with a gutsy display for the Ricci and Mullins team. The big race of the day was rather disappointing as Lisnagar Oscar caused a huge upset with the hot favourite Paisley Park finishing a poor seventh.
Concertista put in a stellar display and powered clear in the Mares’ Hurdle and is certainly one to follow for the future.
JP McManus has had a rather incredible week so far and looks to have plenty of chances today, especially in the handicaps.
Today’s feature is the Blue Riband of jumps racing and it appears to be one of the strongest fields ever to go to post. The ground has changed considerably on the chase course which may have a great bearing on today's outcome.
Cheltenham Tips, Day Four:
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m7f213y Going: Soft
Latest Exhibition is current market favourite and his form when beating the well-regarded Andy DuFresne at Navan reads particularly well. He’s rather straight forward and does his best work off the bridle which is a trait that has stood to may previous winners such as Kilbricken Storm and Minella Indo.
Cobbler’s Way was a fast finishing second behind the Paul Nolan trained favourite and is certainly still improving so may be thereabouts at the finish.
The strongest English challenger, Thyme Hill, is a very strong contender as he stays and has excellent course and distance form when he finished third in last year’s Champion Bumper behind the imperious Envoi Allen.
An unexposed improver really stands out and has been extremely well backed since the start of the week. Sempo finished 6 lengths behind Thyme Hill in last years bumper and has been given plenty of time by Joseph O’Brien to mature over hurdles.
He will relish this step up in trip and his second to Cobbler's Way and a win since hinted at a horse that is rapidly improving and will see out the trip very well. He is still excellent value at 10/1 and looks to have a huge chance of causing a minor upset.
Selection: Sempo (WIN)
3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m2f70y Going: Good to soft
A field with huge strength in depth is demonstrated by last year’s convincing winner still being priced up at 3/1. Paul Townend will be trying to guide the favourite to back to back successes in this contest. If he can, it will make him the first horse since Best Mate to achieve this feat. He has had a flawless preparation and is a very worthy favourite.
English hopes lie with Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation. The former put in an awesome display of jumping in the King George that was very reminiscent of a certain Kauto Star. Lostintranslation performed quite poorly that day, but Colin Tizzard is singing his praises ever since. He has had a wind operation which could have a big effect on his performance today.
The winner however may be a somewhat discounted horse. Kemboy fell at the first in last year’s race but made up for it with taking displays in Aintree and Punchestown. He has been campaigned quite differently than that of his stable mate and jumping has let him down in his last two showings. He is the joint highest rated horse in the field, the conditions are coming good for him as the ground has changed to good to soft. Paddy Mullins will take up the ride and may try put him to sleep and utilise his turn of foot at the finish. Should Kemboy’s jumping hold up, he has the engine and spirit to put on a Gold Cup winning display.
Selection: Kemboy (WIN)
Selections for the Day
1.30: Solo WIN - 7/2
2.10: Saint Roi WIN - 6/1
2.50: Sempo WIN - 10/1
3.30: Kemboy WIN - 8/1
4.10: Minella Rocco WIN - 7/2
4.50: Chosen Mate WIN -10/3
5.30: Ilikedawayurthinkin - 6/1