Cheltenham Festival Tips Day 4: Sharjah to strike in County Hurdle

Sharjah is one of two selections for Mark Milligan on the final day of Cheltenham

Mark Milligan has had a profitable Cheltenham so far and bids to go out on a high with two selections on the final day...

  • Mark Milligan is back with a couple of selections on the final day

  • Sharjah poised to strike from fair mark

  • Iroko to notch a win for Great Britain

Willie Mullins has a good record in the County Hurdle (14:10) and could well hold the key to this year's renewal as he fields a team of four in the race.

The one that punters seem to be gravitating towards is the unexposed Hunters Yarn, who boasts a similar profile to last year's winner State Man and comes here in preference to a couple of the novice contests that he could well have been aimed at.

The winner of three of his four starts over hurdles, this 5-y-o gelding could well be a blot on the handicap off a mark of 147, particularly with the prospect that he may not be done improving yet.

However, he is towards the head the market and needs to prove himself against some battle-hardened types, so there probably isn't a great deal of mileage in siding with him at 5/1.

Classy Sharjah should give a good account

One of those battle-hardened types I was talking about is Hunters Yarn's stable companion Sharjah, who brings a touch of class to proceedings and could well be up to defying top weight on his first go in a handicap since winning the Galway Hurdle in 2018.

Twice runner-up in Champion Hurdles, it's rare that Shrajah fails to give his running and his three starts in Graded company this season have been solid efforts, even if he isn't quite capable of challenging the top hurdlers these days.

As a 10-y-o, it's probably fair to say he's not quite as good as we was but that's not to say he doesn't have a solid chance in this sort of a company and a mark of 155 looks fair enough on what's he's achieved so far this season.

The one concern would be he's shown a tendency to make a bad mistake on his last couple of runs so will need to cut those out, but a big field and a strong pace should ensure that he gets the race run to suit.

Sharjah will be a very tough to keep out of the frame if turning up in his usual form, and with six places to go at on the Sportsbook, he looks well worth siding with from an each-way perspective.

Back Sharjah each-way, six places, at


Mullins holds strong chance in the last as well

Willie Mullins could well be taking home the final race of the Festival too, with his Spanish Harlem strongly fancied to take home the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey's Handicap Hurdle (17:30) that rounds off four fantastic days of racing.

None other than Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs took this race in 2021 for the Closutton handler and his Spanish Harlem comes into the contest with a similarly unexposed profile.

He could well be ahead of the handicapper, however, it's hard to escape the fact he's been beaten at relatively short odds on his last three starts and punters will likely be asked to side with his as favourite again in this very competitive contest.

Spanish Harlem could well dot up but I think we can afford to swerve him as the jolly in a race such as this and I'm going to side with the English to get one up on their Irish counterparts here.

Iroko looks worth siding with

Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero have only been training as a partnership for less than a year but have made a very strong impression in that time and currently have an impressive 19% strike-rate.

It would be a big feather in their caps if they could train a Cheltenham Festival winner and I think they have every chance of doing just that with the progressive J P McManus-owned Iroko.

This 5-y-o is relatively unexposed himself having made just five starts and has been very impressive in winning his last two starts (both at Wetherby), the latest of which he absolutely bolted up in by 14 lengths.

The third horse from that contest has run well to finish second since and I like the fact that Iroko has been freshened with a 62-day break since then.

The handicapper could well have taken a chance by raising his mark juts 10lb since then, a number that could easily have been in excess of a stone given the manner of his latest victory.

He'll need to handle the hustle and bustle of this much bigger field but there's every chance Iroko still has more progression in him and he looks a knocking each-way bet with five places available on the Sportsbook.

Back Iroko each-way, five places, at


Mark's P/L (Not including Thursday)

Staked: 328 Returns: 398.97 P/L: +70.97


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