Friday, Day 4, I hope you're in front so far because it doesn't get much easier. There were a couple of decent exactas, even a boxed trifecta, in my picks from yesterday if you bet that way. (No I didn't. GRRR)
A better day for Placepot/Colossus Place 6 dividends, paying £810 and £932 respectively, although to be fair to the Tote, there were pushing the shot to nothing bets in 'night before' insurance yesterday, so there'd have been a higher than normal proportion of selections other than Envoi Allen in the first leg. That insurance offer covers the final day as well.
Unsurprisingly, the respective Jackpot/Win 6 pools rolled over again, so if you can unlock this card, you deserve a big reward! Zanahiyr and Elimay will be the shorties of the day.
The best of the juvenile crop open the card and on face value, four are genuine chances, the other four are here for the day out... although that doesn't work for 2021, and it's probably a bit harsh on the two Mullins runners, the least experienced in the field and oppose the genius at your peril. The Irish stars are Quilixios and Zanahiyr. The benchmarks are Saint Sam and Busselton who ran in the Boodles on Tuesday. Quilixios beat them both in February, by 5.5L and 10.25L, Zanahiyr beat them on Boxing Day by 6L and 3.75L, after a 14L win over Saint Sam in November. So there shouldn't be a great deal between them, although the betting is now heavily in the Zanahiyr camp. Jockey Jack Kennedy was quoted as saying he leaned towards Zanahiyr as being slightly better.
For Britain, Adagio and Tritonic have the honour. Adagio is the only one of the lead quartet to have seen defeat, back in November to early season star Duffle Coat, but then stepped forward with wins in the Triumph Trial here and the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in early January. Tritonic started his career on the Flat and was pretty handy, ending with a rating of 99. He was very impressive at Kempton three weeks ago, but there is a doubt on the strength of the opposition. His RPR was marginally better (2lbs) than Adagio's, but it was 7wks later, an important point given the immaturity of these juveniles.
Favourites don't always win this and I'd rather back Adagio EW than take any of the remaining three straight out.
ADAGIO, Zanahiyr, Quilixios
Nearly impossible race to decipher, so I'll keep it simple. Belfast Banter scrapes in at the bottom of the weights but meets two of the favourites (Third Time Lucki and You Raised Me Up) on much better weight terms for narrow defeats. Drying ground will suit, has a habit of running second though, so take the each-way with as many places as you can find. Saint D'Oroux ran third in the Boodles last season, as well as second and third in a couple big field Irish winter handicaps. The ground might be too dry for him, but prepared to take that risk at the price. Fifty Ball has run 2112 from his last four starts, with the most recent being in the Betfair Hurdle behind Soaring Glory a month ago. Other chances to Gowel Road and Captain Kangaroo - it could be a race for the bottomweights so a couple of darts at big odds will do me.
BELFAST BANTER, Saint D'Oroux, Fifty Ball, Gowel Road
Albert Bartless Novices' Hurdle
Like most races this week, the Irish form seems stronger. All the murmurs have been around Fakiera and Stattler but there's another one I like with a lower profile. Streets of Doyen beat Stayers' Hurdle winner Flooring Porter (who wasn't particularly genuine that day) over three miles back in October, followed up with a couple more wins, including at Cheltenham in October. He was then put away for the winter and resumed on the last day of Feb over a trip far too short and going too soft but I'm pretty certain that was to get him fit for this target. The money for him this week certainly suggests so. He'll sit back and relish a pace battle up front. Stattler will jump to the front and run a strong pace, hoping to do what Allaho or Flooring Porter did on Thursday. Barbados Buck's might be the best of the home contingent.
STREETS OF DOYEN, Stattler, Barbados Buck's
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Everyone wants to pick holes in Al Boum Photo but I just don't see it. This field isn't any stronger than the two Gold Cups he has racked up already and according to Racing Post Ratings, his win on New Year's Day at Tramore was even better that his wins there in 2019 and 2020. He'll let Frodon and Native River set a strong pace and get involved when it matters. Champ has had an odd preparation, spelled since winning the RSA last season , he's had wind surgery and resumed in the Game Spirit, a two-mile chase a month ago to tighten him up for the big target, but also ensure he was used to running after the surgery. Often horses perform better on their second run after that operation, it takes one run to learn they can breathe properly under pressure again. A Plus Tard will try to keep it late and storm home, Rachael Blackmore has the golden touch this week although I think that's part of the reason this horse is now favourite.
AL BOUM PHOTO, Champ, A Plus Tard
I just don't get the fascination with these races but apparently there's some tradition behind them. Some darts at bigger prices, Mr Mantilla who comes across from Irish point-to-points, Porlock Bay, a recent purchase out of France and Chameron, a Paul Nicholls-owned chaser who is undefeated since wind surgery and going down the pointing/hunter chase route.
MR MANTILLA, Porlock Bay, Chameron
Cheltenham Mares race = back Willie Mullins. Elimay looks the latest of his female stars, her only defeat over fences was to Allaho and we saw what he did yesterday! Has been smashed into odds-on on the face of that. Colreevy beat Mount Ida, remarkable winner on Thursday, by 12L last time out, and won a G1 on Boxing Day against the males (the Marsh third and Paddy Power Plate fourth both fell). Has never seen a track with 'good' in the going description so whether that affects her is guesswork. Really Super is a summer jumper who might pop up at a big price if the ground keeps drying out.
ELIMAY, Colreevy, Really Super
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle
Ireland have won five of the last seven of these and seem primed to extend that record. Gentleman De Mee looks lined he's been set for this from a long way out. After two runs as a 3yo in France, he was snapped up by JP McManus for €280k, then had a year off. He resumed with a comfortable maiden win last month at Naas, with plenty left up his sleeve. I'll be shocked if he's not back here in better races next season. Galopin des Champs was beaten under 10L by Appreciate It at the Dublin Racing Festival while Gabynako has form through Bob Olinger and Fakiera, but made an early mistake in a big Leopardstown handicap last month and never got into the race. Longshot hope for First Lord de Cuet.
GENTLEMAN DE MEE, Galopin des Champs, Gabynako, First Lord du Cuet.
Adagio EW 16/1, 3 places
Belfast Banter EW 50/1, 6 places
Saint D'Oroux EW 40/1, 6 places
Streets of Doyen - not shorter than 8/1
Al Boum Photo 3/1
Gentleman De Mee 100/30
1,7 / 19,20,23,24,26 / 4,12,13 / 1,5 / 1,3,10,11 / 1,2,9