Micheál Deasy returns hoping to finish strong with the Gold Cup very much on his radar.
It’s the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and our last chance until next March to get involved in such a packed card of quality jumps racing so let’s not waste a moment. There are seven races with the obvious highlight the Gold Cup, and plenty of great punting opportunities so let’s get straight into it…
Sir Erec (2.2) has been the Irish banker for the festival for many since his run in the Dublin Racing Festival where he put the best of the Irish juveniles to the sword in devastating fashion.
A minor shock went through the ante-post world when it was announced last week he had suffered a stone bruise at home, but he has since been reported to be in top form.
His trainer landed the Fred Winter in good style on Wednesday, showing the strength in depth of his juvenile hurdlers and Sir Erec should land him the double here.
Leoncavallo (23.0) had been on my radar for the Imperial Cup last weekend but did not take up his entry there and has lined up here instead. He almost made a trip to Galway pay off handsomely last summer when finishing third in the Galway Hurdle, 3.5l behind Sharjah with Bedrock and Le Richebourg a further 3L and 6L behind respectively.
This is excellent form when you look at what the aforementioned horses have gone on to achieve this season. Sharjah lined up with an each-way chance in the Champion Hurdle before being brought down at the third and Le Richebourg would have been a short-priced favourite for the Arkle.
There are few better trainers in the UK for lining up a handicap hurdler like Dr Richard Newland and he seems to have kept Leoncavallo fresh with a race like this in mind.
He currently trades at 23.0 on Matchbook and the yard are well known to back their fancied horses. If the money comes for him tomorrow he will go off a much shorter price.
I could not believe the price of Rockpoint (34.0) when I saw it on Wednesday evening. The only thing we know for certain about the Albert Bartlett is that it goes to a horse that has a lot of experience over hurdles.
The Tizzards caused a minor shock in this last year with Kilbricken Storm and Rockpoint is of a similar profile.
He has had 12 runs over hurdles in his career and beat Lisnagar Oscar over course and distance in December. His form tailed off after that but he had had three runs in a month so this may have taken its toll. He has had a month off to freshen him up for this and can run well at a big price.
A win for Presenting Percy (5.5) would set off a gigantic four-day party in Ireland (It’s a Bank Holiday on Monday over here). A lot has been made about his usual prep, but his owner has stated over and over again that they don’t want to risk him if the ground isn’t soft enough.
A trainer’s job is to get the horse fit and I don’t think there will be a worry there. He won his only run of the season at Gowran Park in the Galmoy Hurdle and looked to be in fine order.
He was recently sighted getting some practice in over fences at Galway and he has a good horse to work with at home in Mall Dini. He has thrashed a field twice at the Cheltenham festival, winning the Pertemps at a canter in 2017 and following up last year with a 7L win in the RSA over the excellent Monalee.
If you are unsure about backing him, a good way to play this would be to watch how he runs in the first mile and back him in-running if he is jumping and travelling well.
Believe the hype about Presenting Percy, he is a machine of a racehorse and can bring home the Gold Cup.
This is not a race I would be very interested in, but Shantou Flyer (8.4) caught my eye. He was good enough to place in the Ultima last season and this is a significant step down in class. He has been bought by David Maxwell who targets Hunter Chases so if you are in the green after Presenting Percy has won the Gold Cup Shantou Flyer wouldn’t be a bad bet to keep the run going.
I’ve been backing Bun Doran (21.0) for this since he bolted up at Cheltenham in November. His trainer said after the race that he had returned from his summer break in flying form and was leaving God’s Own far behind in his work at home. He went up 10lbs for that win and couldn’t follow up in his next run when he finished second to Ozzie The Oscar over course and distance in November.
He has been put away since then with this race in mind and he always goes well fresh.
He was incredibly impressive in his November win and if he returns here near that kind of form he will take a lot of beating in an incredibly competitive handicap.
Dallas Des Pictons (4.5) is another Gordon Elliott handicap plot job and he should land the spoils in the final race of the festival. A 3L second to City Island in his second run of the season over 2 miles looks like excellent form now after City Island won the Ballymore on Wednesday.
Dallas Des Pictons has been well backed since his battling win in a 3m handicap hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival with Gordon Elliott nominating this race for him immediately afterwards.
He has remained clear at the top of the market since and hopefully, he can round out an epic Cheltenham for us in style.
- 13:30 – Sir Erec (2.2) – 2pt Win
- 14:10 – Leoncavello (17.0) – 1pt Win, 1pt Place
- 14:50 – Rockpoint (34.0) – 1pt Win, 1pt Place
- 15:30 – Presenting Percy (5.5) – 2.5pt Win
- 16:10 – Shantou Flyer (8.4) – 1pt Win
- 16:50 – Bun Doran (21.0) – 1pt Win, 1pt Place
- 17:30 – Dallas Des Pictons (4.5) – 1pt Win
Your host Tom Stanley is joined by Sam Turner, Brendan Powell and Matchbook’s Micheál Deasy to preview Day 3 and 4 of the Festival with the Gold Cup of course leading to lots of different opinions.