Cheltenham Festival Guide: Friday 13th March

Al Boum Photo won the Gold Cup 12 months ago.
Al Boum Photo won the Gold Cup 12 months ago.

Today's pointers come from day four of the Cheltenham Festival...

1. Goshen to Triumph for Moore team?

Trends followers will tell you there's just one horse in the opening 13.30 Cheltenham which meets the following criteria: seven of the last 11 winners came into the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle unbeaten, while four of last 11 were rated 150 or higher. Step forward the Gary Moore-trained Goshen, the mount of son Jamie, and a horse who has created a major impact with victories at Fontwell, Sandown and Ascot. 

2. Mullins unleashes strong team in County

Looking ahead to the 14.10 Cheltenham, the County Hurdle is a contest in which Ireland's champion trainer Willie Mullins has thrived, taking four of the last 10 renewals. The Closutton man is playing catch up behind his great rival Gordon Elliott, but now has three winners on the board for the Festival courtesy of victories for Ferny Hollow, Min and Concertista. Including market leaders Ciel De Neige, Saint Roi and Aramon, he runs a team of five. With the exception of Aramon, the first two also fit in to the stat which identifies 13 of the last 15 successes in this race to have been gained by horses rated 139 or lower.  

3. Exhibition the one to beat in Albert Bartlett

Likeable Wexford trained Paul Nolan saw one of his stable stars Discorama run a cracker to be third in the Ultima Handicap Chase on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, and he'd be a popular winner is his runner Latest Exhibition can land the spoils in the 14.50 this afternoon. Latest Exhibition is on a hat-trick following victories in a Grade 2 at Navan plus a Grade 1 at Leopardstown, runs which have elevated him towards the front of the market for the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. Fourteen of the the last 15 winners of this contested a Graded hurdle last time out.

4. Who claims Cheltenham Gold Cup glory?

Race of the day! The 15.30 Cheltenham looks to be a deep and complex renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, bringing together the 175-rated Willie Mullins-trained stablemates Al Boum Photo and Kemboy, Paul Nicholls' dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, Nicky Henderson's pride and joy Santini, in-form Gordon Elliott's Delta Work, plus dual Festival winner Presenting Percy. Al Boum Photo was a 12/1 shot when landing this prize 12 months ago, but he's clear market leader today in a contest where eight of the last 17 favourites have delivered, plus since 2000 only two winners have been returned bigger than 8/1. 

5. Hazel Hill bids for back-to-back Foxhunters

Amateur riders get their turn once again in the 16.10 Cheltenham, with a maximum field of 24 for the Foxhunter Chase. Six of the last 10 winners of this race had finished in the first five the previous year, so it makes sense to look closely at last year's winner, the veteran Hazel Hill. The mount of Alex Edwards, the 12 year old is top rated in the field on a mark of 147, though does have recent form to reverse from Wetherby last month, where although conceding four pounds he was beaten a length and a half by today's likely favourite, 2016 National Hunt Chase hero Minella Rocco. The pair clash at level weights today suggesting Hazel Hill is the value play. 

6. Croco Bay to cause another shock in Grand Annual?

Equine pensioner Croco Bay served up a 66/1 stunner when landing the Grand Annual Chase 12 months ago and unsurprisingly the now 13 year old is back for more in the 16.50 Cheltenham. His trainer, Northamptonshire-based Ben Case, has his team in good form and sent out a winner at Huntingdon on Wednesday. Lightly raced, the old boy has been in good form and was also fifth in this race in 2017. Trends observers will be interested to know three of the last five winners of this race finished in the first five the previous season. 

7. View aims to shine in finale

Due off at 17.30, the 28th and final race of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival is the fiendishly hard to solve Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. Despite just four runners across the first three days, Irish trainer Joseph O'Brien brings a team of eight this afternoon, three of whom line up in this. Of those, his likely favourite Front View makes obvious appeal. Four of the past six scorers in this race were novices travelling from Ireland, all of them carrying more than 11 stone and a pound. This horse ran well over a similar trip to today's in a Grade 3 at Thurles last time out.

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