We head in to the last day of the meeting and it is fair to say it has been brutal so far. For me personally this is a meeting I do well at but this has been my worst ever. I guess you can’t win them all but there is still one more day to go and I have had great years where I have only had one good day so here is hoping!
The first race is one I’m happy to take a small play as I do not fancy anything original other than the front three in the market. They have all shown the best form so far and although Porticello and Knight Salute have done well in Britain in the Juvenile races I think they will struggled against the Mullins horse and the Elliott ones. I’m just going to do a small combination tricast and hope the cream rises to the top.
The County Hurdle is a race Dan Skelton has a great recent record in but it is not West Cork I’m going to chance it is Stepney Causeway. He has an absolute featherweight at the bottom of the handicap and Jack Andrews takes another 5lbs off. He was a decent flat horse and a prolific novice hurdler racking up 4 wins before they tried chasing but it didn’t work out. He reverts back to hurdles here on an appealing mark and although front runners tend to find it hard in this race I prefer it with a claimer on and with cheekpieces added I hope he can keep going to the line and finding at a huge price. The other I like in the race is Cormier who won a competitive handicap here in January and followed up a few weeks ago at Kelso. He is a tough sort who likes to be held up and is clearly in good form. I think he has a good chance to go close in this and look overpriced.
The Albert Bartlett is a good renewal but I think Ginto should have gone for the Ballymore myself and although he may win he’s too short in this line up in what will no doubt be a true test of stamina. I’m a big fan of Hillcrest and he ticks all the right boxes and he is tempting but there’s just a couple in here I want to chance at bigger prices who I think will both be suited to the race (plus with the week I’m having 7/2 isn’t going to cut it!!). The first is Shantreusse who won over 3m in heavy ground last time in a Grade 3 so seeing this out won’t be a problem. It wasn’t a particularly strong Grade 3 but he’s only had a few runs and is improving. The second, Eye Van, has been beaten by a few of these by slightly bigger margins but there isn’t much in it and this race will be run much differently to those races in Ireland. He should go close. The other one who looks too big, and whose staina is assured, is Mahler Mission. He took a big step forward when winning the Doncaster trial in January where he travelled well and stayed on strongly. He will have to take another step forward but conditions will hold no issues and he has the potential to cause an upset.
Then it is the big one! The Gold Cup will take centre stage as Minello Indo will attempt to win back to back runnings of the race. I am not sure why A Plus Tard is shorter than him this year, but I won’t be backing either anyway. I like Galvin, Protektorat and Tornado Flyer. My head says the latter won’t win a gold cup but he was impressive in the King George and has to be respected, plus he’s a decent price considering. Galvin has the profile of a Gold Cup winner and has been impressive this season, plus the extra few furlongs should play to his strengths. Protektorat is interesting and he could go close but the Grade 1 and 2s he’s won recently look weak on paper. All things considered and although he is favourite I think Galvin is the likeliest winner and he is my selection in the big one.
The Foxhunters is next and Bob and Co was my NAP of the meeting last year and I really had a good go. It hurt when he unseated I can tell you however I think he can make amends this year. He won his next two after that including beating Billaway at Punchestown. He was beaten at odds on for his seasonal reappearance but I’m not too fussed as the ground was much too heavy for him and this would have been his target. He’ll get much better ground here and I hope will win this year.
Nothing stands out to me in the Mares’ Chase I have to say. I’ll leave it alone but if pushed would side with Mount Ida.
In the finale, the Martin Pipe, I am torn between two. The first is Decimation who is a silly price currently for Gigginstown who often target this race. All his form is good from Bumper form with Queens Brook and a Grade 2 run behind Ashdale Bob. He has only had one run this season which I imagine was to get him spot on for this as they were happy with his mark and he could go close at a whopping price. The second is The Goffer who dropped back to this trip to land a Grade 3 last time. He stays at 2m 4f and is still unexposed so might improve further but he’s only 5.
Let’s hope for a good end to the meeting as it has been tough up to this point.
1.30 – Vauban, Pied Piper & Fil Dor 0.5pts Combo Tricast
2.10 – Cormier 33/1 1pt EW & Stepney Causeway 66/1 (both bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
2.50 – Shantreusse 12/1 1pt EW (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) & Mahler Mission 66/1 0.75pts EW (PP 1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
3.30 – Galvin 7/2 4 pts Win (Boyles)
4.10 – Bob and Co 13/2 4 pts Win (bet365)
5.30 – Decimation 40/1 1pt EW & The Goffer 16/1 1pt EW (both bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)