There are JUST THREE WEEKS to go until that famous Cheltenham roar cuts through Prestbury Park on 13th March. Things are beginning to take shape and it’s almost time for the talking to stop – not that that will stop Tuffers and Ken from trash talking one another ahead of the BetBright Cup!
So, without further ado, here’s the latest instalment from the BetBright Cup Captains, who provide us with their thoughts in the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival 2018.
Tuffers: Ken will have to ‘wait’ until next year for a Ryanair win!
Well, it was another great weekend for Team GB ahead of the Cheltenham Festival which is now within touching distance – blimey, that’s come around quickly hasn’t it?!
Where else to start than with Waiting Patiently who was the impressive winner of the Grade One Ascot Chase and I tell you what, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Tufnell household when he crossed the line on Saturday!
Brian Hughes rode the horse to victory just one day after Malcolm Jefferson’s funeral and with his daughter Ruth now running the operation, I was delighted to see her pick up her first Grade One just two days after her first winner at Kelso on Thursday – her father would have been very proud!
Hughes allowed Cue Card to lead the way and quite fittingly, as his name suggests, Waiting Patiently bided his time, popped the last then clicked into fifth gear to leave Cue Card and the rest of the field in his tracks.
Let’s be clear: this was one hell of a line up for this edition of the Ascot Chase. Cue Card looked as good as ever, up until Saturday Top Notch was unbeaten at the course and with the likes of Coney Island and Frodon also included, this really could have been anyone’s, which makes it even more of an impressive win.
He looked unbelievable at Kempton in January and with Saturday’s win slashing his price to 4/1 for the Ryanair, I think team GB has found another Festival winner for the Thursday.
Never mind Tuffers and Ken, how about Bryony Frost and Black Corton for a double act this Cheltenham Festival!
They continued their excellent run of form by winning the Reynoldstown by an impressive eight lengths and since they paired up over fences in July, they’ve only been defeated once!
Black Corton is now 10/1 for the RSA and although he’s up against some tough competition from the other side of the Irish Sea in Monalee (7/2) and Presenting Percy (3/1), I wouldn’t mind an Ante-Post each-way punt at those odds at all.
Over at Haydock, Chef Des Obeaux did everything right in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle where he absolutely BOLTED UP!
Nicky Henderson isn’t short of good things for the festival and probably holds the key to me lifting the BetBright Cup on Friday afternoon!! I think he’s got another very exciting talent in Chef Des Obeaux and at 8/1 he’s right in the mix for the Albert Bartlett, which in my book is certainly worth a bet.
As we enter the calm before the storm, I’m literally counting down the days until Tuesday 13th March 2018 where life is put on hold for four of the most spectacular days of racing. There are so many exciting British prospects and I’m more sure than ever that I’ll be lifting the BetBright Cup at the end of the week… there’s no way we can have a repeat of last year – not on my watch!!
BRING IT ON!
Ken Doherty: My Festival Nap Looks Nailed On!
There was no Douvan at Gowran Park on Saturday afternoon, but it was somewhat reassuring to hear Willie Mullins announce last week that he’ll go straight to the festival if (touch-wood) he continues to please the team at Closutton.
It seems as though his options will be left relatively open, where he’s 5/1 behind Min (11/4) and Altior (8/11) for the Champion Chase and is 7/1 for the Ryanair. It’s a BIG IF, but IF he gets to Cheltenham in one piece and runs anywhere near to his best, we may look back at those prices and wonder why they were so big!
It’s important to focus on the Irish horses that did run at the weekend though, and I was delighted to see Our Duke get his season back on track by winning the Red Mills!
Even better, I was delighted to hear that Noel Fehily is set to partner Our Duke (8/1) in the Gold Cup as Robbie Power looks to retain the title with Sizing John. These are two top quality jockeys on two brilliant horses and I think they’ll give Might Bite (10/3) and Native River (11/2) a run for their money – Mr Tufnell will have a battle on his hands in this one!
Eddie O’Leary has confirmed that my NAP for the Festival, Samcro, will run in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, which I’m delighted about! He’s now as short as 4/6 with BetBright, which means it’s almost certain that Team Ireland will win the opening races on the first two days of the festival, with Getabird now 15/8 for the Supreme.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to see these two young guns prove themselves on the big stage – I can see the Irish flag being waved plenty of times in the winner’s enclosure this year!
Speaking of young guns, David Mullins really seems to be making the most of the opportunities he’s been given while Paul Townend and Ruby recover from their respective injuries before Cheltenham.
He gave Some Neck some ride, beating Up For Review by six lengths in the opener at Gowran Park which was then followed up with another win for The Ricci’s on Saldier who won his Maiden Hurdle well. Willie has some highly talented jockeys at his disposal in March and hopefully David can take this excellent form into the festival.
Ok, I’ll give Tuffers the benefit of the doubt – Waiting Patiently was very impressive and you can’t argue with his form. But when it comes to the Ryanair in March, he’s going to be thrown in at the deep end against Un De Sceaux who leads the market at 3/1 and is as good as ever!
The hill at Cheltenham will not only test the patience but also the stamina of Brian Hughes’ horse and against Un De Sceaux who’s been there and done it on the biggest of stages, he still faces his toughest test in March.
Besides, Ruth Jefferson has even said that a decision hasn’t been made as to whether he’ll definitely go the festival. Either way, the Ryanair, surely, has to go to Team Ireland this year!
There are just three weeks to go and I am adamant that the BetBright Cup will be lifted by the Irish, once again!
Tuffers: you are in trouble!
Read the BetBright Guide to Cheltenham Festival 2018
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.