Cheltenham Festival: Who to back on Thursday and Friday

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The Cheltenham Festival continues this week with the Gold Cup on Friday being the Blue Riband race of this superb meeting.

Lord Windermere was a shock winner last year and I can foresee another upset. Silviniaco Conti is the likely favourite and has served this column well this season but I am not sure that he handles the undulating course so is reluctantly overlooked.

The Jonjo O’Neill trained Synchronised won the race in 2012 when tipped in these pages and I fancy a similar type from the same yard called Holywell. He has won at the last two Festivals and thrives on spring ground. Smad Place and Lord Windermere are two other outsiders who I fancy in what is a wide open race.

In the supporting events I like the Irish trio, The Game Changer, Martello Tower and Roi Des Francs to win their hurdle races. Hargam is taken to beat the favourite in the Triumph Hurdle while Eastlake can win the finale and could yet be Tony McCoy’s last ride at Cheltenham.

The feature race on Thursday is the Stayers Hurdle. With no Big Bucks taking part it is incredibly open. Zarkander always runs well at the Festival and is taken to win from the outsider Whisper.

The Ryanair Chase is the other Grade One race on the card and I found it hard to split Ma Filleule and Hidden Cyclone before siding with the mare. She jumps for fun and loves Cheltenham.

I can pass on a tip for Edeymi who has been laid out for the Pertemps Hurdle. It would be great if local trainer Malcolm Jefferson’s Attaglance could win the ‘Plate’ after his unlucky run at the Festival last year. Buywise will run him close and is the one for the forecast. There is also a strong Irish word for Golden Bullet in the Kim Muir.

Racing returns to Wetherby on Tuesday where a great card kicks off at 2:20pm.


THURSDAY: 1:30 Valseur Lido, 2:05 Edeymi, 2:40 Ma Filleule, 3:20 Zarkander, 4:00 Attaglance, 4:40 Gold Bullet, 5:15 Eastlake

FRIDAY: 1:30 Hargam, 2:05 The Game Changer, 2:40 Martello Tower, 3:20 Holywell, 4:00 Aerial, 4:40 Roi De Francs