Cheltenham Festival Friday tips: The best bets on Gold Cup day

Galop Des Champs is a confident pick for a second successive Gold Cup win

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1 month ago

Cheltenham Festival Friday best bets

2.50 – Lecky Watson (each-way) @ 11/1

3.30 – Galopin Des Champs to win @ 11/10

4.10 – Premier Magic to win (each-way) @ 6/1

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Galopin Des Champs can prove himself a cut above in the Gold Cup

The way GALOPIN DES CHAMPS overcame a less than ideal passage through last year’s Gold Cup to win going away suggested he was a special winner of the race by it’s own recent standards.

He is readily expected to land a second successive victory in the Festival showpiece for trainer Willie Mullins, who performed that same feat with Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020.

Some 6lbs clear of second-highest rated rival Shishkin on official ratings, he comfortably bested second favourite Fastorslow over 3m at the Dublin Racing Festival and thrashed Gerri Colombe by 22 lengths at the same track at Christmas.

Those two runs are sufficient evidence to believe that whatever Gold Cup hangover that contributed to his losses to Fastorslow at Punchestown over 3m in May and 2m3f in November has long been shaken off. He will win again comfortably.

Tip: 2.50 – Lecky Watson (each-way) @ 11/1

Pauling performer a big value potato-race punt for in-form operation

If there’s one of Cheltenham’s Grade 1 races in which it should be der rigueur to side with a big-priced runner it’s the 3m Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – a race in which there’s been just one single-digit odds winner in the last 10 renewals.

The rain is expected to return to Prestbury Park on Thursday and Friday and that should ensure conditions are ideal for LECKY WATSON. He may well be Willie Mullins’ fourth string in the contest but his back from has shown has both staying power and a degree of class.

Mullins’ hurdler won his maiden over just shy of 3m, from a rival that won another 3m maiden by eight lengths on his next start and has since been placing in clasy company over shorter trips.

Next up the selection finished just half a length behind Supreme winner Slade Steel in a Grade 2 event over 2m4f before staying on to claim third in the Grade 1 Lawlors of Naas over the same trip behind the reopposing Reading Tommy Wrong.

Stepped back up to 3m on the stamina sapping new course he could have the grit to outlast fancier rivals in a race his stable won with 18/1 shot The Nice Guy in 2022.

Tip: 3.30 – Galopin Des Champs to win @ 11/10

Proven Premier can repeat the dose in unique Hunter Chase test

The Cheltenham’s St James’ Place Hunter Chase is a fairly anomalous race in the hunter chase sphere in that it’s a big-field contest run in front of packed-out Gold Cup Day crowd over 3m 2f.

Many of the contestants and a good many of the jockeys will have experienced nothing like it before and can be sucked into an unsustainable gallop like moths to a flame.

As a result it pays to side with runners who have proven their ability to stay the Gold Cup trip in these specific circumstances previously

PREMIER MAGIC overcame being hampered by a loose horse to land a 66/1 shock in last year’s race and looks like going off an each-way price again despite Salsify, On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder all having won consecutive runnings within the last 12 years.

Trainer-jockey Bradley Gibbs rode a superb race last year and his mount appears to be returning in every bit as good a nick as 12 months ago. The 11-year-old seeks his ninth straight win in point-to-points or hunter chases at the Festival.

Tip: 4.10 – Premier Magic to win (each-way) @ 6/1