Cheltenham Tips

Cheltenham Tips for Gold Cup Day: Tony Calvin's trio of tips for Friday

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
Tony has a trio of tips for Gold Cup day at Cheltenham

We've reached the final day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin has a trio of bets for you to consider on Gold Cup day...


Paul Nicholls Superboost

Bravemansgame finished runner-up in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup and he's never failed to finish in the top five over fences. You can back him now to finish in the top five in today's Gold Cup at 15:30 at the super-boosted price of 2/13.00.

Back Bravemansgame to finish Top 5 in 15:30 @ 2/13.00

Bet here

13:30 - Triumph Hurdle: No Bet

Willie Mullins is responsible for half of the 14-strong field for the Triumph Hurdle at 13:30, but it will probably be a late call as to whether they will all have to deal with Sir Gino.

You are probably fully aware by now that Nicky Henderson's stable is under a massive cloud, and you are going to have to be fully compensated for in price terms if you want to take a risk with those horses he runs.

Sir Gino is 9/43.25 with the Sportsbook, which is a fair carrot to dangle, but an even bigger 3.65 on the exchange; he traded a low of 1.855/6 on the ante-post market.

I imagine we won't know for sure whether the hugely promising Sir Gino will be allowed to take his chance until Friday morning - they'll no doubt be giving him as full as MOT as possible the night before, or even on the day - and if he is pulled out then the complexion of the race will change massively.

As well as a meaty Rule 4 being invoked.

I am not inclined to get involved at this stage then, though there has been a loudening (is that a word?) whisper for the horse he beat on his sole start in France, Salvator Mundi (who wears a first-time hood), in recent days.

Paul Townend rides Storm Heart, though - Mark Walsh was always going to ride JP McManus' Majborough - so make of that, what you will.

It is worth remembering 33s poke Mighty Bandit hit a low of 6.25/1 for this race after his debut win in a very fast time, and he was subsequently bought for an eyewatering 420,000 euros despite blowing out last time, and I hope he runs a big race for Warren Greatrex.

He reportedly bled when running poorly last time (which again makes you roll your eyes at the purchase price) and he has had his wind done since.

The solid each-way option may be Nurburgring but I will come back to this race when I know the score with Sir Gino. He casts a big shadow over this betting at the moment.

14:10 - County Hurdle: Back Faivoir

Absurde has been my lean for the County Hurdle at 14:10 ever since I did my prep for the Preview in Dublin last week - providing he got decent ground on the day.

That looks unlikely though, which is a shame as he looks to be on a very attractive hurdles mark of 138 given he is a 110-tool on the Flat. With the going doubt, he is easily swerved for the moment at 7/18.00 with the Sportsbook.

The latest forecast for Cheltenham has 4mm for Thursday (starting at 11am) and 3.5mm on Friday.

In truth, a cogent case could be made for most of these at their prices, so I was initially not inclined to force a bet.

Then I decided an old friend (and more recently a frustrating foe) was too big to ignore.

Surely, last year's winner Faivoir has a big chance at these weights, just 2lb higher than winning last season and 4lb well-in here for his Imperial Cup second on Saturday (he obviously should have won, as his jockey admitted afterwards), but the obvious doubt for him is the quick turnaround.

Horses just don't get easy races on testing ground at Sandown - especially given the overly-aggressive manner in which he was ridden by Harry Skelton - and I was going to give him a miss for tipping purposes.

But he is a stand-out for me on form and on the clock, and not just on Saturday's run, and I am not bothered that Skelton has deserted him for L'Eau Du Sud, with 3lb claimer Tristan Durrell taking over.

He has blow-out potential given Sandown was only six days ago, so I will play him win-only at 17.016/1 or bigger on the exchange. He is 16s in two places on the Oddschecker grid, and 17.5 on the exchange as this goes live. I'll settle at Betfair SP, as per usual.

Back Faivoir to Win 14:10 @ 17.016/1 or bigger

Bet here

There is not a lot of pace in here, and the lead is Aucunrisque's if his connections want to press on.

He could go a lot better than his odds suggest (50s in a place in the wider marketplace). He is down to a mark of 137, having been a 16s poke when running off 147 in this race last season, when he admittedly finished well beaten.

But, remember, he had previously won the Betfair Hurdle off 138. If the ground had been better, I would have stuck him up here too (at a lesser price, admittedly) and you probably don't want to be a sitting duck in this race as they sweep for home.

I m going to see how the ground looks on Friday morning and I'll re-assess whether I am backing Absurde and Aucunrisque; they could do without any further rain.

14:50 - Albert Bartlett: Back Johnnywho

I'd have liked to back Johnnywho each way at 14/115.00 but the Sportsbook are paying traditional place terms, so I am going win-only at the 14s there or 15.014/1 or bigger on the exchange (he is 16.015/1 there, as this goes live).

I'm not a massive fan of the Jonjo O'Neill stable to be honest and he has a lot to find with some of the Mullins' massive but he has shaped very well in the Challow and in a Grade 2 here last time over an extended 2m4f (travelling particularly well for a long way on his latest start, having looked a stayer at Newbury), and I am banking on the step up in trip being a massive plus.

His pedigree certainly gives you every encouragement in that regard. He is a full brother to a 3m scorer, he is a half-brother to a 3m5f London National winner and his dam was a 4m winner.

Yes, that sounds like a probable stayer, and an improver, at 3m to me. Mullins has five in here and he may have something to say yet again, but Johnnywho is a fair bet at the price.

Back Johnnywho to Win 14:50 @ 15.014/1 or bigger

Bet here

15:30 - Gold Cup: No Bet

The Gold Cup at 15:30 looks a great race but it doesn't make it an attractive betting medium. I'd rather be with Galopin Des Champs than against him at around evens, but that is probably his right price, in truth.

The absence of Shishkin is a big positive for him, as the Henderson horse and Fastorslow were his most dangerous form rivals, and I sense he will take a lot of whacking.

Fastorslow at 7.26/1 on the exchange is probably the bet to be had if there is one.

16:10 - Hunters' Chase: No Bet

I'd have more knowledge of hair products than the Hunters' Chase at 16:10 (though check out @DarranPearce on X/Twitter, as he is an expert on the subject), so I will move swiftly on to the Mares' Chase at 16:50.

And then move on even quicker.

16:50 - Mares' Chase: No Bet

Dinoblue would be 2s-on against these over 2m (yes, aunties and uncles) and I am not inclined to take her on, even if she has stamina to prove. We have been here before in the trip-doubt with Lossiemouth, and we will probably get the same result, I feel.

Limerick Lace and Allegorie De Vassy are the obvious each way angles against her, but the Sportsbook have that option more than covered by going 7/24.50 and 9/25.50 about them respectively. There is some 9/25.50 available on the former if you shop around.

I'd favour the latter at 9/25.50 if you want to play each-way, as she actually only has 3lb to find on official ratings with the favourite and last year's runner-up is a guaranteed stayer. She is currently 6.411/2 on the exchange if you want to play win-only.

17:30 - Martin Pipe: Back Waterford Whispers

One of the loudest and confident and consistent words in the last week or so has been Waterford Whispers in the Martin Pipe at 17:30.

And I can fully see why. And the stable have already had a great week going into Thursday's racing, with Slade Steel and Captain Guinness.

Back him at 5.59/2 or bigger. He is currently 5.79/2 as this goes live.

Winner of his first two starts this season, - he beat Answer To Kayf at Fairyhouse on the latter occasion, admittedly getting weight, and the runner-up has improved markedly since and runs here off 137 - he went to Leopardstown last time and was not given at all a hard race in finishing second. And that is putting it mildly. The third actually came out and ran a great race at the DRF.

The UK handicapper clocked it (unlike with a Skelton runner....) and has given him 6lb more than his Irish mark, but I don't think a rating of 133 may stop him here.

On just his fifth start, he looks a sure-fire improver and I wouldn't lay him at 9/25.50 myself.

So I am going to suggest you back him at that price.

I will.

Back Waterford Whispers in 17:30 @ 5.59/2 or bigger

Bet here

FIRST-TIME HEADGEAR STATS FOR FRIDAY:

Mullins - hood 27-157 (since 2013)

O'Neill - visor 9-56 (2009)

Elliott - blinkers 20-152 (2009)

Neville - visor 0-3 (2018)

Cian Collins - cheekpieces 0-8 (2022)

Kirby - blinkers 3-37 (2009)


PACE MAPS- probable/possible forward-goers (manually done, not autogenerated):

TRIUMPH: Majborough, Salver, Fratas,

COUNTY: Westport Cove?, Aucunrisque

ALBERT BARTLETT: Dancing City, Search For Glory, The Jukebox Man

GOLD CUP: Bravemansgame, Galopin Des Champs, Jungle Boogie, The Real Whacker

HUNTERS': Billaway, Ferns Lock, From The Heart?, Premier Magic, Ramillies, Samcro, Shantou Flyer

MARES': Harmonya Maker?, Instit, Kestrel Valley, Marsh Wren

MARTIN PIPE: Better Days Ahead, Mel Monroe, Shared?, Jason The Militant


Now read Paul Nicholls on his Gold Cup day runners here.


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