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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Betting Odds correct at 6pm 12 March 2020 and subject to change. You need to be 18 years and older and please gamble responsibly.
Allmankind (WIN) 9/2 was a fair sort on the flat for Michael Bell and was a winner over ten furlongs at Chelmsford winning his maiden by no fewer than six lengths. He finished tailed off in his two subsequent starts so connections decided to try something a little different for him.
He made his debut for Dan Skelton at Warwick in a run-of-the-mill hurdle race, the result was emphatic. He took a strong early hold and he set about his task well. Having been gifted a soft lead he sauntered clear with three flights of hurdles still to jump. Gaia Vallis gave vain pursuit, but was beaten around thirty-two lengths in the end. He was then upped in class to Grade Two company and once again he set out to make all for Harry Skelton. Despite losing a shoe through the race, he gallopedon to record a two and a half length win over Botox Has and Repititio.
His sternest test came in a Grade One contest at Chepstow during the Welsh National meeting back in December. Again wearing his heart on his sleeve he set off in front but never looked in any danger as his jockey did a fantastic job of holding him together. He has been wrapped in cotton wool ever since and has enjoyed the benefits of a two-month break.
Dan Skelton will have schooled him with the intention of him respecting his hurdles a little more. With conditions in his favour he looks the one to side with in a fascinating opening race.
RANDOX HEALTH COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE
Christopher Wood (EW) 25/1 absolutely relishes soft ground and he bounced back to form on it at Musselburgh just a few weeks ago. He has recently recovered from a wind operation and having been dropped in the ratings by the handicapper, Paul Nicholls took full advantage to get him back to winning ways.
Having track the leaders throughout the race he went second just before the third last flight. He took over two from home and really started to assert himself in the closing stages. He won by almost a dozen lengths in the end and recorded a first win in almost twelve months.
Plenty of use is likely to be made of him as he actually won over two furlongs further in the past and that came on ground very similar to this. Harry Cobden has partnered him to his three most recent wins and it looks ominous that he is back on board today. Paul Nicholls has won this race four times in the last 16 years with the likes of Sporazene, Dssert Quest, American Trilogy and Lac Fontana. His yard have already enjoyed success at the Cheltenham Festival this year with Politilogue winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase. In a race that is wide open, he is one of the few currently at the top of their game and he looks to have a solid each-way chance.
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE
Monkfish (EW) 7/1 won in the style of a decent up and coming sort when last seen out at Thurles back in January. He steadily improved as the race progressed and disputed the lead coming to the second last flight of hurdles. Paul Townend pushed him out for a comfortable twenty length success over the likes of Alpine Cobra and Vis Ta Loi.
He showed a likeable attitude with that most recent win and this slight step up in trip to three miles does not look as though it will inconvenience him in any way. He looks a staying chaser in the making and he will rank amongst the elite in the Mullins yard if he can take this competitive renewal.
The Irish have a good recent record in this and Willie Mullins landed this race two years ago with the strong stayer Penhill. Minella Indo produced a 50/1 shocker here last season and the likes of Martello Tower and Very Wood have all taken the prize back across the Irish Sea in recent seasons. Monkfish will not mind the testing ground and he looks a player for leading owner Rich Ricci.
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) 7/1 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) 15/2 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) 11/1 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.