Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays: Friday March 18

Don Cossack heads the market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Don Cossack heads the market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup
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It's Gold Cup day at Cheltenham on Friday and Timeform have picked out their three best bets on the card...


"He is taken to extend his unbeaten record to eight and give his young trainer Ben Pauling a first Cheltenham Festival winner."

Zubayr - Cheltenham 13:30

Ivanovich Gorbatov could well improve again, especially on this better ground, but his price is rather short on what he has achieved, and preference instead is for Paul Nicholls' Zubayr, who won the Adonis in some style on his first start for the yard at Kempton last month. Nicholls recorded a famous Adonis/Triumph double with Zarkandar on his first two starts on these shores and Zubayr, who arrives here with a very similar profile, could do the same. There are a number of dangers in an open renewal of this race, and the solid Sceau Royal, who is a consistent sort who has won his last three starts, should be there or thereabouts.


Barters Hill - Cheltenham 14:50

Barters Hill was not flashy in the River Don at Doncaster on his last start, but the feeling remains that he will be a hard horse to pass (battles gamely and responds generously to pressure) and with this stiffer test looking right up his street, he is taken to extend his unbeaten record to eight and give his young trainer Ben Pauling a first Cheltenham Festival winner. The biggest threat to the selection could come from Unowhatimeanharry, who has been one of the most progressive horses in training this season and does not look out of place on his first try at the top level.


Don Cossack - Cheltenham 15:30

A fascinating renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup despite the late defection of Vautour, who was narrowly beaten in the King George by the resurgent Cue Card, who has a shot at the £1 million chase triple crown here. However, both Cue Card and Vautour may well have been beaten by Don Cossack in the King George if he hadn't fallen at the second last (strong stayer who finds plenty for pressure) and with a clear round today, he is taken to make amends under Bryan Cooper, who prefers Gordon Elliot's horse to Don Poli, who himself is unbeaten in two starts at the Cheltenham Festival and is also one the key players.


Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays

Back Zubayr in the 13:30
Back Barters Hill in the 14:50
Back Don Cossack in the 15:30


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