Friday, February 23, 2024

Cheltenham Tips: Paul Jacobs’ full card preview for Day Four at the Festival

Must read

Paul Jacobs’ Cheltenham Friday betting tips:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle – Gala Marceau
2.10 McCoy Contractors County Hurdle – Icare Allen [each-way]
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Three Card Brag 
3.30 Gold Cup – Royal Pagaille [Each-Way] 
4.50 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase  – Zambella [Each-Way]
5.30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Au Fleuron [Each-Way] 

1.30 Triumph Hurdle – Gala Marceau

I think this is an above average renewal of the Triumph Hurdle, but as with all of the races towards the back end of the week, even if we don’t get heavy rain, a wet forecast of continuous steady precipitation could result in day four being run on testing ground – watch this space!

Would Lossiemouth have won at Leopardstown if she hadn’t endured back luck in the run? Possibly. But that resulted in her having a very hard race and not being the biggest filly there has to be a question mark as to how well she has taken it.

The selection Gala Marceau had luck on her side that day, but that was still a huge step forward from her seven and a half length second to her stable mate over Christmas.

I think it is logical to expect another step forward here. Blood Destiny falls into the ‘could be anything category’ but what I do know is he needs to improve his jumping even if that slight weakness won’t be tested as much on this course as the old track, while the professional in the field is definitely Comfort Zone, who has done nothing wrong so far and looks solid each-way material.

I suspect that there is plenty more to come from Betfair runner-up Filey Bay (not sure he wants a bog) and Pembroke, should be suited to a fast run two miles on the New Course. However, you can argue that both have been found in the market and there are several each-way alternatives which fit the bill for our ‘value’ column.

If Sharjah retains the majority of his ability, a rating of 155 is very fair, but he too wouldn’t want a slog, something that wouldn’t bother the five-year-old selection Icare Allen. All of his best form has come with plenty of give in the ground and he was given a very easy time at Newbury in the aforementioned Betfair Hurdle once he was badly outpaced and as a result he has been dropped a pound for that run.

However, his previous performance at Fairyhouse on a testing surface proved that he retains much of his ability and he is way over priced as an each-way play when you consider there are sure to be enhanced place terms here.

One of the more difficult novice hurdles at the meeting and this could well become a really deep test of stamina and that would certainly suit Three Card Brag who looks a real stayer of the most radical kind. Corbitts Cross won a handicap in deep ground off a mark of 125 before he took another massive step forward by landing a grade two back over two miles on a much quicker surface. Based on that handicap run under what could be similar conditions, he will need another step forward here.

I was hugely taken by the Leopardstown run of Cool Survivor when he came from some way back to finish strongly when fourth to Good Land, Absolute Notions and Sandor Clegane over two and three quarter miles and based on that run he looked a natural for this test. However, Gordon Elliott has more than suggested that the Martin Pipe could be his domain, but I would fancy the stamina laden son of Westerner strongly were he to be switched here.

3.30 Gold Cup – Royal Pagaille [Each-Way]

I truly fascinating renewal of the feature race of the week. Once he was asked for effort, Galopin Des Champs really fired up the Leopardstown hill last month and has every chance of getting home over an extra two and a half furlongs. He must be a dream ride as he settles so well and his fencing seems to have no flaws to it.

But in such a competitive renewal, anything under 7/4 is not on my radar. I’m not sure that the enigmatic Ahoy Senor wants an out an out stamina test, but Noble Yeats probably does and I fancy the Grand National hero to reverse Paddy Power Cotswold Chase form. A Plus Tard hosed up last year because he was the best ‘speed stayer’ in the race off a stop start gallop and the good to soft ground is his optimum surface. Add to that his interrupted prep and he falls further down the list.

Conflated remains the forgotten horse after beating Kemboy in the Savills and we have yet to see the best of him, while if you trust the words of Dan Skelton then his under-cooked Protektorat is also an each-way player should he return to the sort of form which saw him rattle home at Haydock.

There was only two and a half lengths between him and our selection Royal Pagaille in last year’s race when I thought he made up too much ground too quickly last year. Mud, mud glorious mud is what Venetia Williams’ nine-year-old wants and I think he can hit the frame at the very least under such conditions at a mighty price.

I have no doubt that Allegorie De Vassy has by far the biggest engine in this field and if this race was on a right handed track then anything around the 6/4 mark would be a gimme. But it is not and if she continues to jump right at her obstacles even her huge talent may not be enough to give ground away each time she leaves the ground and still win.

As impressive as she was at Huntingdon, Jeremys Flame is essentially a speed mare and this may not be her want on the New Course and I much prefer playing outside the first six in the betting and siding with last year’s fourth Zambella. She was essentially out-speeded when over six lengths behind JF, but this stiffer track plays to her strengths and she loves juice in the ground.

Despite this being the final race at the festival this has become one of the biggest betting mediums during the four days not only because it is a handicap and the ‘getting out race’ but also due to the fact that plenty of the high profile trainers will use this as a long term target for their unexposed young hurdlers.

That has certainly been the case with the progressive 5yo Imagine, the very lightly raced Spanish Harlem and Might I, the last named having been a massive eye catcher last time out at the Gloucestershire track.

However, with non-runner/no bet in play I am going to go left of centre and put up a young horse Au Fleuron also entered in the Coral Cup (38th on the list, 35th here), and in which every race he runs in I shall be having a significant each-way play. A never nearer seventh of 23 in this race last year, the selection finds himself set to run off a 2lbs lower mark. This thought will only be a 10th start under rules, eighth over hurdles and there could be significant improvement to come. At such big odds, in my view he is worth taking a chance on.

Paul Jacobs’ Friday Cheltenham betting tips:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle – Gala Marceau
2.10 McCoy Contractors County Hurdle – Icare Allen [each-way]
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Three Card Brag 
3.30 Gold Cup – Royal Pagaille [Each-Way] 
4.50 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase  – Zambella [Each-Way]
5.30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Au Fleuron [Each-Way] 

Read More on the Cheltenham Festival 2023

The latest racing odds are on PaddyPower.com now

The Paddy Power Guide To Safer Gambling – Everything You Need To Know

Latest article