THIS is it. Magners Gold Cup day 2019.
We’ve made it people, despite rain and wind and Benie Des Dieux falling. Cheltenham is almost done and dusted, but there’s still one big question to answer.
Who will win the Gold Cup? The feature race of a terrific meeting.
From Arkle to Silver Buck, Desert Orchid to Dawn Run, Best Mate to Kauto Star and Denman, the Gold Cup has thrown up magnificent results.
This year’s renewal promises to be a cracker, with the extraordinary Presenting Percy up against rising star Clan Des Obeaux and defending champion NATIVE RIVER.
Throw in Haydock enigma Bristol De Mai, Welsh National hero Elegant Escape and King George runner-up Thistlecrack.
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I’m a huge Native River fan, and tipped him up in my Sun column over Christmas when he was about at 13-2 chance.
He’s just super tough, talented and stays strong. Richard Johnson, the champion jockey, is made for this animal and I’m sure he’ll run massive for Colin Tizzard.
Native River is a classic example of when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and in this Gold Cup that is what I believe you will need.
Of the outsiders it won’t surprise me if Al Boum Photo runs a big one for Willie Mullins. He was good last time and of course was most unfortunate not to land a big pot at Punchestown when running out at the last.
Friday’s racing kicks off with the JCB Triumph Hurdle, and most simply believe SIR EREC will hack up.
He’s had a little issue having trod on a stone, but on form he is a stand out. Very useful on the Flat when he took on the likes of Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, he’s looked a natural over jumps for Joseph O’Brien.
Next up is the County Hurdle, and this is wide open as you expect. I think WHISKEY SOUR has strong each-way claims here for Ruby Walsh and Mullins.
A Grade 1-winning novice, he loves to run at a strong pace and was an eyecatcher when last seen.
The big novice event comes up with the Albert Bartlett.
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I’ll have a few quid each-way here on O’Brien’s Rhinestone, who looks a biggish price on the back of not being beaten far by Commander of Fleet last time.
He’s got plenty of talent and experience and was a good ninth in the bumper last year suggesting the track is not an issue.
After the Gold Cup all eyes fall on the hunter chasers in the Foxhunters. The one to be with here is HAZEL HILL, who is very talented for Philip Rowley and ridden by the excellent Alex Edwards.
My hope was impressive at Warwick most recently and stays strong.
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The penultimate race of the 2019 Festival is the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual. MAGIC SAINT is all the rage for this and it’s easy to see why.
He looked good at Wincanton last time, jumps soundly and stays as he has gone a bit further. Every chance he’s well handicapped for Paul Nicholls.
And ladies and gentlemen we close with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, named after, of course, one of the legends of the game.
BIG TIME DANCER really impressed in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and the handicap mark has been kept tight since that success. He has every chance of landing a big pot for Jennie Candlish.
So I hope you have had a fabulous Cheltenham week. Tomorrow ITV is at Uttoxeter and then it will soon be time for Aintree and Classic trials. Enjoy a great sport. Yeeehaaa!