14:05 - Which Elliott runner to back in the County?
The Gordon Elliott train continues at a rapid pace - and he has three in the County Hurdle up next. His best chance is Duca De Thaix.
'I would think he has the upper hand of our three runners, he'll enjoy the ground and I'm looking forward to a big run.'
Check out the full column here.
13:45 - Another day, another Elliott winner
Betfair Starting Price and ISP: BSP 11.521/2 - ISP 9/1
Antepost High of Winner: 40.039/1
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Farclas 19.018/1 Mr Adjudicator 1.331/3 Apples Shakira 1.51/2.
Comments: The theme continues with Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott landing the Triumph Hurdle with Farclas. Most of these pulled hard all the way however Farclas and Mr Adjudicator where the only runners with anything left in the tank coming up the hill with Farclas coming out on top in the end.
10:53: Native River 'the one to beat' in the Gold Cup
At our Cheltenham preview night in London on Saturday, Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls was positive about Native River's chances in the big one today.
10:35: Only one place to go to back Elliott runners
The Betfair Exchange was best priced for all six of Gordon Elliott's winners so far this week, with huge profit boosts on Veneer of Charm and Tiger Roll, compared to industry SP.
Check out the Betfair Ambassador's exclusive insight on all of his Day 4 runners, and find out who his best chance of the day is.
09:40 - @StopwatchRacing gives his selections for Cheltenham Gold Cup Day
I've been against Apple's Shakira all season, taking her on with a couple of bigger-priced antepost selections. Unfortunately, whilst studying this race a week ago, It suddenly dawned on me that she's going to win the Triumph and, with weather conditions in her favour since, there's nothing that's disabused me of that notion. The odd thing, for a guy like myself who accumulates his own speed figures, is that she's far from clear at the top of my numbers: weight-adjusted (she receives seven pounds today) she's about two or three pounds clear, but nowhere near enough to make her a good-thing.
What's turned me on to her is her profile. There are four or five other horses in the race who have clocked good or similar numbers to her, but they all strike me as being "cheap speed" types, who'll travel and travel but ultimately find little. Apple's Shakira is much more like her sister (Apple's Jade): she travels and jumps well, but she often hits a flat-spot and her key ability is her staying power and her strength late. She finds plenty for pressure, and is doing her best work at the finish, and whilst there are horses who'll undoubtedly travel better than her, I'd be convinced that when push comes to shove she'll outstay them.
In the Martin Pipe at 16:50, Early Doors has looked like one of the McManus plots of the week. His second behind Mengli Khan, in a race with an excellent sectional profile, suggested that he was closer to a 150 horse yet he's running off 142 today. The new trip should suit him as well, as looked to just lack the gears for two miles that day.
Obviously Mengli Khan showed his true worth on Tuesday with a very respectable third in the Supreme on Tuesday on ground which wouldn't have been ideal, giving the form a nice boost. Early Doors has half a stone in hand of the handicapper, which is usually what's needed for a Cheltenham handicap, will be cherry ripe for this, and should go very close.
09:23 - @StopwatchRacing reviews yesterday's feature race
The Thursday of Cheltenham saw the meeting move on to the New Course, the idea being to introduce fresh ground with the Old Course having taken something of a pounding over the past 48 hours. This worked a charm this year, with the ground looking to have dried out somewhat compared to that of the Old Course.
The Stayers' Hurdle was Thursday's feature and, usually, you can guarantee a strong pace and proper test. Unfortunately, this year was the exception. We have the Pertemps Final as a direct comparison - where they set good, honest fractions throughout - and the Stayers' was 11.28 seconds slower than that race from the 1st to three out.
Sam Spinner, looked to have the dream scenario by any metric: he got an uncontested lead and was able to set his own fractions in a Championship race. He was on the strongest stayer and the horse with the best form. Unfortunately for Sam Spinner this year, where the feature of his main rivals was tactical speed and a turn of foot, being in front three out wasn't enough, and he was quickly done for toe turning for home by horses who may well have struggled had it turned into a slog.
I find it hard to be overly critical of Joe Colliver: I backed the horse, and thought it received a dream ride early on. The mistake he made was not attacking a long way out the way Cole Harden - a proven stayer like Sam Spinner - did when he won the race. Had he asked him up and pushed him on from six or seven furlongs out, he would have turned the race into a greater test of stamina, rather than speed, and could possibly have drawn the sting out of horses like Supasundae and Penhill.
That said, we do have to upgrade the winning performance quite significantly. He was held up at the rear of the field - in theory, the worse place to be in a slowly run race - and showed a lot of tactical speed to get himself involved, and to eventually win a shade cosily.
His Albert Bartlett win last year was superb, and this run, whilst not of the same quality on the clock, confirms that he's a top-class animal. Beyond him, however, I wouldn't trust this form at all. Despite the 11 second gap between this race and the Pertemps, they only managed to make up a couple of seconds from three out. I'd be convinced that if the race was run at a stronger gallop, we'd have seen a totally different set of placings (albeit Penhill would probably have won, whatever).