Timeform Shortlist: Expert analysis of all seven races on Friday's card

Native River
Native River is aiming to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the second year running.

Timeform's free shortlist comes from Cheltenham on Friday, where it is Day Four of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival...

"He showed great toughness when getting the better of Might Bite 12 months ago and looks ready to peak once more..."

Timeform on Native River

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1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (1) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated
167p 12. SIR EREC Joseph Patrick O'Brien M. P. Walsh
166 9. PIC D'ORHY Paul Nicholls Sam Twiston-Davies
164+ 5. GARDENS OF BABYLON Joseph Patrick O'Brien Barry Geraghty

Analyst's Verdict:
The fact that Sir Erec managed to finish placed in Group 2 company on just his fifth Flat start marks him down as out of the ordinary for the division and his easy Spring Juvenile Hurdle win (by 6 lengths from Gardens of Babylon) is the best form on offer. The Paul Nicholls trained pair Quel Destin and Pic d'Orhy have had contrasting preparations for this but both are interesting.

2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (1) 2m179y

Timeform Top Rated
165 4. MR ADJUDICATOR W. P. Mullins P. Townend
164 21. MONSIEUR LECOQ Mrs Jane Williams Lizzie Kelly (3)
163 5. CH'TIBELLO Dan Skelton Harry Skelton

Analyst's Verdict:
The assessor didn't have a lot to go on when allotting Crooks Peak's opening mark and he took full advantage at Newbury a fortnight ago. Given he was value for extra and promises to be suited by this big-field environment, the follow up under a 5 lb penalty is a distinct possibility. Whiskey Sour was third in this a year ago and has been aimed at this, while Monsieur Lecoq is going the right way.

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Spa) (Grade 1) (1) 2m7f213y

Timeform Top Rated
161p 13. LISNAGAR OSCAR Rebecca Curtis Sean Bowen
160p 6. COMMANDER OF FLEET Gordon Elliott J. W. Kennedy
159p 4. BIRCHDALE Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty

Analyst's Verdict:
Traditionally a treacherous race for favourites and with that in mind it could pay to side with the experienced Dinons, who won here in October and who is easily excused his latest run when bidding for a 6-timer. Birchdale, Commander of Fleet and Dickie Diver are among the many others with bags of potential who should feature. Stoney Mountain is one to consider at a huge price.

3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (1) 3¼m70y

Timeform Top Rated
182 12. NATIVE RIVER Colin Tizzard Richard Johnson
181 5. CLAN DES OBEAUX Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden
180p 13. PRESENTING PERCY Patrick G. Kelly Davy Russell

Analyst's Verdict:
Native River can become the first back-to-back winner since the legendary Best Mate. He showed great toughness when getting the better of Might Bite 12 months ago and looks ready to peak once more having not been seen in the best light in his 2 runs since. Presenting Percy, seeking his third straight Festival victory, looks the biggest danger ahead of the progressive Kemboy.

4.10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (2) 3¼m70y

Timeform Top Rated
146 4. CAID DU BERLAIS Mrs Rose Loxton Mr William Biddick
145x 10. HAYMOUNT T. Ellis Miss Gina Andrews
143+ 24. UCELLO CONTI Gordon Elliott Mr J. J. Codd

Analyst's Verdict:
The way Hazel Hill travelled and jumped before readily clearing away from a competitive field at Warwick really sticks in the mind and this 11-yearold, who is actually not fully exposed, looks to have all the attributes to make a name for himself at the top level. Stand Up And Fight should be well respected based on connections and Ucello Conti can play a big part if jumping efficiently.

4.50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (1) 2m62y

Timeform Top Rated
169p 18. NOT ANOTHER MUDDLE Gary Moore Jamie Moore
166 19. BRELAN D'AS Paul Nicholls Bryony Frost
166 7. TREE OF LIBERTY Kerry Lee Richard Patrick (3)

Analyst's Verdict:
Plenty of exposed sorts here and the progressive Not Another Muddle could be the answer. His excellent jumping was a key feature of an impressive win at Sandown 4 weeks ago and he should get the race run to suit. Magic Saint and Whatswrongwithyou are also going the right way and they head the dangers.

5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (2) 2½m56y

Timeform Top Rated
157 14. CARTWRIGHT Gordon Elliott Fergus Gregory
156 1. EARLY DOORS Joseph Patrick O'Brien Jonjo O'Neill Jr.
155 15. MOUNT MEWS Donald McCain Danny McMenamin

Analyst's Verdict:
Cartwright is in better heart than his form figures would suggest, and this prolific Flat stayer is unexposed over this sort of trip over hurdles. Stablemate Dallas des Pictons has been the subject of a big gamble in recent days and he's clearly very progressive, but Cartwright looks the value play. Of the rest, Early Doors and Not That Fuisse seem sure to go well.

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