Timeform run through the card at Cheltenham on the final day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival...
"That was a very complete performance for just his fourth start over fences..."
Timeform on Not Another Muddle
13:30 - For many people SIR EREC (12) is the banker of the week, such is the impression he has made in winning both of his starts over hurdles so far. A smart performer on the Flat - and still a colt - he has impressed with the efficiency of his jumping, taking a big step forward from his debut form when winning the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last time, having several of these in behind. Quel Destin looks the best of the British challenge, having won all five of his starts for Paul Nicholls, but the trainers other runner, Pic d'Orhy looks the unknown quantity in the race.
14:10 - A typically competitive renewal of the County Hurdle, a race in which Willie Mullins has a good record in over the past 10 years. He fires three darts at the race this time round, but it could pay to focus on MR ADJUDICATOR (4). He finished runner-up to Farclas in the Triumph Hurdle at this meeting last season, and made a most encouraging return from seven months off when 11 lengths second to subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Espoir d'Allen in November. That form looks particularly strong now, and an opening mark of 149 doesn't look excessive on the pick of his form. Gordon Elliott's ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU (16) is another intriguing runner from Ireland. The form of his latest fourth-placed finish - where two past Cheltenham Festival winners, Jezki and Ivanovich Gorbatov, finished just in front of him - looks strong, and a well-run race round here over two miles should suit him down to the ground, so he also needs keeping on side.
14:50 - Both of Nicky Henderson's runners here look very interesting and arrive with progressive profiles. It is BIRCHDALE (4) who remains unbeaten, though, and is taken to extend that run in what admittedly looks a wide-open renewal of the Albert Bartlett. In truth, he was perhaps coming off second best to Brewin'upastorm when that rival fell at the last at this course last time, but there's no doubt he would have been staying on strongly up the hill after the last, and the step up to three miles here should unlock further improvement. This race normally goes to a more experienced type, but given the promise he's shown so far, he's worth siding with. It would be wise to pick a more experienced sort too, though, and DINONS (10) fits the bill. He got a sighter of this course when winning a novice over C&D in October and can be forgiven his latest effort when a bad mistake ended his chances. He has the right sort of profile for this race and can't be discounted.
15:30 - All eyes will be on the big three here, Presenting Percy, Native River and Clan des Obeaux, but in truth, this year's Gold Cup has a very open feel to it. With that in mind, taking a chance on a bigger priced runner could be the way to go. Willie Mullins has four in the race, and of that quartet AL BOUM PHOTO (1) makes the most appeal at the prices. He wasn't disgraced in top-level events last season, and was set to win the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown until his rider took the wrong course on his final start that term. He looked good when completing a routine win in listed company on his return and he is one of the more unexposed types in the field. One of Mullins' other runners, BELLSHILL (3), also has a chance. He has the right sort of profile for this race, a sound jumper who stays well, and he did well to win the four-runner Irish Gold Cup last time. This bigger field and likely stronger pace will suit him well and Ruby Walsh should get a good tune out of him.
16:10 - This looks a good renewal of the Foxhunter and UCELLO CONTI (24) could prove too classy for these. He was showing smart form in handicaps as recently as last year - when finishing second to Gold Cup hope Anibale Fly - and he has taken well to points/hunter chases. He has won his last two starts with plenty in hand and should be suited by this big-field scenario under Jamie Codd, who is searching for his third win of the week. The prolfic pointer Hazel Hill also commands plenty of respect, along with the Edna Bolger-trained Stand Up And Fight.
16:50 - NOT ANOTHER MUDDLE (18) has proved most progressive over fences, winning both of his starts in his novice campaign last season, and building on his reappearance run when winning a handicap at Sandown last time. That was a very complete performance for just his fourth start over fences, always travelling powerfully and jumping accurately, his ride having to take a pull as he got to the front quicker than anticipated. There should be plenty more to come from this progressive type and he is a most intriguing runner here. The equally unexposed Magic Saint looks another lively contender.
17:30 - CARTWRIGHT (14) 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.
Minimum Bet Guarantee
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 – now covers all races from the Cheltenham Festival 2019, including antepost markets. T&Cs apply.
13:30 - 4,16
14:10 - 4, 10
14:50 - 1, 3
15:30 - 24
16:10 - 18
16:50 - 1