Steve Hughes has selections for the final day at Cheltenham
The final day of another terrific week of racing at Cheltenham and the biggest prize of all the Gold Cup is on offer. This can go to a horse yet to race over fences this season. Defi Du Seuil gave us a small profit on the day yesterday with a 100/30 (advised) win.
Cheltenham 1.30: Quel Destin
Sir Erec will be all the rage here, but I have not been totally convinced by his jumping and at the prices I think Quel Destin merits more value as an each-way bet.
Having suffered a narrow defeat on his British debut at Chepstow in October, the 4yo has won five in a row since. They have ranged from a facile success at Kempton, to a brave but narrow success at Grade 1 level at Chepstow over Christmas.
His latest win at Haydock suggests he continues to improve and he is fully battle hardened which is a big positive for a race as tough as this.
Cheltenham 3.30: Presenting Percy
Winner of the 2017 Pertemps and 2018 RSA at the Festival, Presenting Percy can complete a Festival hat-trick with success in the biggest prize of all – the Gold Cup.
He took to chasing really well in a busy campaign last term. That included a win over 3m5f at Punchestown, so stamina is no issue, whilst his 2-2 success rate here confirms a liking for this stiff track. All going seems to come alike to this 8yo.
Having missed a number of engagements over fences this winter, apparently due to the unseasonably fast ground, he did at least get a run out at Gowran Park over hurdles, where he defeated a strong quality field that were all fully fit from previous runs this term. Among them was Bapaume who ran with great credit in the Stayers yesterday, so that form suggests the 8yo is as good as ever. It has been a quiet week so far for jockey Davy Russell, but a second Gold Cup success would make up for that.
Cheltenham 4.50: Not Another Muddle
A horse with a fine win ratio, especially over fences where he is 3-4, Not Another Muddle has scraped in at the bottom of the weights and can maintain his upward curve.
He won both his novice contests in a truncated campaign last term, winning at Plumpton and Leicester. However because those races were hardly hotly contested, his handicap mark has remained relatively lowly. After a delayed opening to this season he has taken a step up in class well in his stride.
An opening third to Dolos at Sandown can be marked up as he was left slightly at the start through no fault of his own. He went back to the Esher track just two weeks later and made no mistake, jumping well en route to a 3l defeat of stablemate Darebin, thus booking his ticket for this race in the process. There may be more to come from his new mark of 138.
Cheltenham 5.30: Early Doors
The Martin Pipe is now the final race of the meeting and it is the perhaps inappropriately named Early Doors that can take the finale.
Joseph O’Brien already has a winner to his name this week and this 6yo came close to scoring in this race last season when finishing third. He has not had much racing since, but has twice tried to take on Apples Jade in Grade 1 contests. Whilst he has not proved up to her level, he did manage a second place, albeit at a respectable distance over 3m at Leopardstown last month.
That form looks very useful at handicap level. Whilst he does have top weight here, there is not a huge weight differential and with promising conditional Jonjo O’Neill on board, he definitely has one of the best jockeys in the line up.
0.75pts each-way – Quel Destin – 1.30 Cheltenham – 10/1 Ladbrokes
1.5pts win – Presenting Percy – 3.30 Cheltenham – 4/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Not Another Muddle – 4.50 Cheltenham – 13/2 Bet365, BetVictor
1pt each-way – Early Doors – 5.30 Cheltenham – 13/2 Ladbrokes (1/5 odds first 5)