Santini can steal the Show

Steve Hughes provides his best bets for the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Gold Cup provides the highlight of the day – and of the week at Cheltenham and this year’s renewal looks a cracker, unlike most of the other features this week. I have selections from four races. We had each-way places for Mister Fisher (sp 7/1) and Bob Mahler (advised 20/1) on Thursday.

Cheltenham 1.30: Sir Psycho

Having already shown himself to be a thorough stayer, look out for Sir Psycho to pick up the pieces in the Triumph.

This looks certain to be run at an old fashioned furious Triumph Hurdle gallop. That is because three of the principals – Goshen, Allmankind and Aspire Tower have made practically all the running in all of their races and seem to have no other way of going. This might help to set it up for a closer.

Sir Psycho could be best placed to take advantage. He enjoyed a fine trail for this with a win at Haydock last month, but I liked his impressive win at Exeter on New Years Day. Making use of a strong pace, he just galloped the opposition into submission. This stiff finish and long run-in are tailor made for him.

Cheltenham 2.10: Ciel de Neige

Willie Mullins 5yo is becoming something of a nearly horse, but he is admirably consistent and might finally gain a big prize this afternoon.

He was probably in front too soon at Newbury last time, but still stayed on for second and was galloping right to the line. He somehow managed to lose a maiden at Limerick the time before when jockey Donal Mcinerney persisted with a non existent run down the rail.

He already has course form having placed third to Band of Outlaws in the Fred Winter last year. He rates very solid each-way value.

Cheltenham 3.30: Santini

This race looks wide open, but I think Santini is classier than might first appear.

He made hard work of getting past Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase here in January. That race has a terrible recent record of developing a Gold Cup winner, but he could be the exception. He is a lazy type so it is no surprise to see cheekpieces applied for this ultimate test. What he does do well though is stay.

He was narrowly beaten by Topofthegame in an epic RSA in last year’s Festival, but did finish ahead of Delta Work. A wind operation certainly seems to have worked and I think the headgear will sharpen him up sufficiently to win this.

Cheltenham 5.30: Column of Fire & Front View

Two against the field in the finale.

Column of Fire had options for this meeting but has been aimed at this slightly easier engagement. Crack new apprentice Eoin Walsh has been booked and he was a fine third at the Dublin Racing Festival over 3m last month. This stiffer track over 2m5f looks ideal and he has been improving with every run, winning his maiden by 13l at Punchestown in January.

Last year the meeting closed with a win for the McManus/O’Brien/O’Neill combination and this could happen again with Front View. Lightly raced, he won over 2m at Cork in November, but gave the impression he would be better over further. That certainly seemed the case when an unlucky second at Thurles. He would have gone close with a decent jump at the last, but his handicap mark may have been protected somewhat as a result.

Recommended bets:

0.75pts -each-way – Sir Psycho – 1.30 Cheltenham – 14/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt each-way – Ciel de Neige – 2.10 Cheltenham – 7/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt win – Santini – 3.30 Cheltenham – 6/1 William Hill

1pt win – Column of Fire – 5.30 Cheltenham – 13/2 general

1pt win – Front View – 5.30 Cheltenham – 4/1 Bet365

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