Cheltenham Gold Cup Day Placepot: Friday March 16
Timeform Betair Racing Club's Bourne
"Bourne looks one to keep on the right side of following his victory in a similar race at Ascot..."
Timeform's Adam Brookes believes that the Gold Cup Day card is undoubtedly the trickiest of the week with regards playing the placepot, but is hoping that his recommended permutation can land what is likely to be a mammoth payout...
13:30 - As is often the case, Alan King looks to hold a strong hand in the opening Triumph Hurdle with Balder Success and Grumeti both potential aces. Of the two, I have an inkling that the unbeaten Balder Success will prove to be the trump card provided he handles the better ground as he remains open to further progression and is sure to stay every yard in a race that is often run at a break-neck gallop. That said, the Cheltenham win (albeit after the disqualification of Pearl Swan) of the aforementioned Grumeti has to be a positive and he's joined by fellow track scorer Baby Mix as narrow insurance preferences over the likes of Urbain de Sivola and unexposed pair Darroun and Dodging Bullets.
14:05 - Unsurprisingly the County Hurdle looks one of the most, if not the most, competitive races of the four days with 28 runners set to line-up, of which cases can be made for nearly all. Tony Martin orchestrated an almighty plunge on Coral Cup hero Xenophon in 1993 and market support for joint top-rated Redera would further bolster the claims of a horse that has not been seen to best advantage recently. Dirar looks to have been laid out for the race and will be a danger to all if over his North America exertions while, the joker in the pack could be Desert Cry, who is going to get the conditions (end-to-end gallop on good ground) he appreciates and comes from a yard that have had a pair of Festival winners this week.
14:40 - We're in a desperate need for a banker and as a clear Timeform top-rated who's open to more improvement than the second, third and fourth on the figures list, Boston Bob fits the bill in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. Ruby Walsh's mount readily saw off the reopposing Mount Benbulben (rated 6 lb inferior) in a Grade 1 at Navan in December and confirmed himself potentially top-class when following up in a Leopardstown Grade 2 a month later. While he's done all of his racing on ground softer than he'll encounter today, he's expected to cope and the step up to three miles is very much in his favour. As an aside, while his efforts to date put him a fair way behind the form principals it must be pointed out that the Haydock handicap won by Grand Vision last time has produced no less than three Festival winners during the last three days - Cape Tribulation, Alfie Sherrin and Sunnyhillboy.
15:20 - Burton Port, Midnight Chase, Synchronised and Weird Al have all earnt their place in what looks an up-to-scratch Gold Cup, but the race undoubtedly revolves around the fifth and potentially all-deciding clash between reigning champion Long Run and Kauto Star, the leading chaser of the last 40 years who is already unique in having regained his crown in 2009. Assuming we've successfully navigated the first three legs it'd be a shame should we succumb to the heart ruling the head, therefore Long Run goes in as the sole selection. His jumping was much better than has often been the case when beating stable-companion Burton Port (who was receiving 10 lb) in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury last time and he's expected to defend his title.
16:00 - Bar Willie Mullins, the Irish haven't exactly been firing in the winners this year but they won the Foxhunter Chase 12 months ago and look to have a strong chance of following up with either Dermot Weld's Merchant Royal or Rodger Sweeney's Salsify. The former shaped as if he'd be suited by today's test when improving to score at Thurles in January, jumping and travelling fluently, while the latter did something similar in a 17-runner hunter at Leopardstown a month ago. Chapoturgeon (classy but has stamina doubts) and Rowdy Rampage (should find this easier than his recent work with Mon Parrain and Kauto Star!) have claims, as does former Kim Muir-winning old-timer Cloudy Lane, but a bigger threat could come from Grand National entry Roulez Cool, who has surely been targeted at a race just 40 minutes after the same connections' Long Run tries to win his second Gold Cup.
16:40 - The "boy's race", or "dad's race" if you're David Pipe, is a cruel way to round-off placepot proceedings but, aside from being owned by the Timeform Betfair Racing Club, Bourne looks one to keep on the right side of following his victory in a similar race at Ascot (subsequent World Hurdle third Smad Place in second) last time. Recent market support suggests Street Entertainer will be another to run a big race for David Pipe, while Toner d'Oudaries will appreciate the drop back from three miles and is the preferred runner for Gigginstown House Stud, the owners of last year's winner and yesterday's Neptune hero Sir des Champs.
13:30 - 3, 4, 9
14:05 - 8, 10, 21
14:40 - 4
15:20 - 7
16:00 - 13, 18, 20
16:40 - 6, 14, 16
= 81 lines
Timeform followers had a Festival frenzy on Thursday, with 5 top-rated winners at Cheltenham. Make sure you fo visit timeform.com to download Friday's card.
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