Cheltenham Lucky 15 Friday
Here are the Cheltenham Festival tips for Gold Cup day Friday 13 March 2020 from @cheltenhamtips on twitter. Tips by Karl Hedley, Racing Post Search For A Tipster champ. Since then he has written for The Irish Field, The Irish Post and writes regular blogs for a number of websites.
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CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP 2020
Delta Work (EW and Nap) 5/1 comes into the meeting as primed as he could be. When he made his seasonal return behind Road To Respect in the Ladbroke Champion Chase at Down Royal, I initially thought he was on the road to ruin. He looked big in the parade ring and he very clearly needed the outing. He wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone.
His next outing was something a bit more like we are used to from him. Last season’s top Irish staying novice, who had finished third in the RSA Chase found the necessary improvement that was required. He responded well to pressure and gradually wore down the gallant Monalee in the Saviles Chase. He gave the impression that he would be suited by a stronger pace, and with a decent looking field looking likely at Cheltenham, that should be guaranteed.
Gordon Elliott earmarked him as a live Gold Cup contender as early as last season. The trainers’ hopes were heightened once again as Delta Work lined up for Paddy Power Gold Cup at Leopardstown at the beginning of February. Unbelievably, he was sent off as a second favourite to Kemboy and it was younger of the pair that would come out on top.
Having been held up, Delta Work began to take closer order after the seventh fence. He then had to be switched in order to press on with his challenge and despite a small blip when brushing through the last, he stayed on well for pressure to land the valuable prize. He is a strong candidate for this years’ showpiece and having won and been placed at previous Festivals will stand him in good stead.
Gordon Elliott landed this prize with Don Cossack back in 2016 and the trainer is confident enough about regaining the coveted prize. Delta Work has shown a likeable attitude this season and he really has developed into the Chaser that his trainer had hoped. I think he might have too much speed for Santini, whilst Al Boum Photo may have appreciated another prep run. There are definite question marks over Presenting Percy and Lostintranslation, whilst Clan Des Obeaux may be found wanting for stamina.
Shantou Flyer (EW) 6/1 seems to be peaking just at the right time and is more than capable of reversing form with last year’s conqueror Hazel Hill. Owned and likely to be partnered by the talented David Maxwell, this ten year old won his most recent Hunter Chase by twenty-three lengths. He knows every blade of grass around here and sees out this trip to good effect. It is hard to see him out of the frame given his jockey and there should be better to come.
Hazel Hill is back to defend his crown having won this in decent style last year. He was rather disappointing when beaten all too easily by Minella Rocco at Wetherby on his most recent start. At the age of twelve, he may prove a little more vulnerable this time around and he could be usurped by an up and coming rival. Alex Edwards is very likely to be in the saddle and they are more than likely going to play a hand in the finish.
Staker Wallace is extremely lightly raced but won his trial at Nenagh by eight lengths. There is no reason to believe that he will not see out this extra quarter mile, but to date he is unproven at it. He will prove popular given that he will be running in the colours of JP McManus and is trained by the brilliant Enda Bolger. Whilst he is definitely going the right way, this may be a bridge too far and he may well have need a bit more experience behind him before he is capable of winning a race as competitive as this.
Shantou Flyer could well prove the answer here. He has been impressive and this will be the equivalent of his ‘Gold Cup’. A little more effort will be guaranteed from the saddle as David Maxwell will partner him once again. Shantou Flyer will have learned a lot since last year and with no worries in relation to stamina, the ten-year-old commands utmost respect.
GRAND ANNUAL CHALLENGE CUP
Eclair De Beaufeu (EW) 7/1 has been kept particularly busy since making his seasonal return at Punchestown back in October. Since then he has recorded two wins including a nineteen length demolition job over Star Max at Wexford and then again at Leopardstown last month when seeing off the likes of the re-opposing Paloma Blue in the Matheson Handicap Chase.
Sean O’Keefe is excellent value for his five pound claim and as a result, Eclair De Beaufeu received weird from the likes of Marracudja, Greaneteen and Chosen Mate. The Irish have won six of the last 18 renewals of this race and Gigginstown House Stud for responsible for the success of Savello here back in 2014.
Gordon Elliott will be keen to take the leading trainers’ prize back across the Irish sea and he has a few opportunities to do that today. Eclair De Beaufeu stays slightly further than this two mile trip and he is more than capable of making his presence felt here.
MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE
Five O’Clock (WIN) 15/2 only graced a racecourse for the first time back in December 2019 and since then he has been kept on his toes by Willie Mullins. He was sent off a prohibitive odds on his debut, but just got tired in the closing stages and was passed by the more experienced Ferocious at Tramore.
Since then the five-year-old has gone on to win subsequent races at the Limerick and Thurles. His victory last time came against Grade Three opposition and he managed to put some six lengths between himself and Front View.
Soft and heavy ground clearly play to the strengths of this rapidly improving gelding. Conor McNamara is a leading conditional jockey and has ridden numerous winners already this year for the likes of Gavin Cromwell, Willie Mullins and Shane Nolan. The young jockey is likely to play his part here and it will be of little surprise to see this combination go very close here in the closing race of the Festival.