Irish Raiders Hold The Aces

Final day of a superb festival

It’s Gold Cup Day today with the blue riband event of the meeting, the Gr1 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase, starting at 17h30.

Eleven runners do battle for a first prize of nearly £352,000 over three miles and two furlongs.

Although a sunny afternoon is forecast, track conditions are likely to remain soft, heavy in places after the deluge on Wednesday.

The Irish raiders appear to hold all the aces with last year’s 1,2,3 all back for more. The prominently ridden Minella Indo was just over a length ahead of stablemate A Plus Tard for trainer Henry de Bromhead with the Willie Mullins trained 2019 and 2020 winner a further four-lengths back in third.

A Plus Tard – massive runner today

They are the highest rated runners in the field and together with fellow Irish trained Galvin (168), should fight out the finish.

Minello Indo loves Cheltenham with two group wins and a close second from as many starts. Robbie Power retains the ride with Rachael Blackmore aboard A Plus Tard.

A Plus Tard was very impressive on his seasonal return in the Gr1 Betfair Chase at Haydock and then was a narrow second to Galvin in a tactical affair at Leopardstown. He should be involved in the finish.

The ten-year-old Al Boum Photo prepped with a fourth successive win in a Gr3 at Tramore on New Year’s Day. He can never be discounted but a bigger threat to the de Bromhead duo could come from the strong finisher, Galvin.

The Gordon Elliott trained Galvin was successful in the National Hunt Chase at the 2021 Festival and has progressed this season with a fine win in the Gr1 Savills at Leopardstown in December when collaring A Plus Tard close home.

Two other Group One events are carded on the fourth and final day of the Festival.

At 15h30, twelve rivals contest the Gr1 JCB Triumph Hurdle runs over 2miles and a furlong. The Mullins trained Vauban is favourite after finishing with a smart turn of foot to run out an easy 3 length winner at Leopardstown last month. Fil Dor for Gordon Elliott was a clear second having previously won his first three starts. He is likely to progress further, but his stablemate Pied Piper is selected for victory.

Pied Piper, was a useful Flat performer before making a most promising debut over hurdles accounting for Vauban at Punchestown by half a length. He followed up in late January here over course and distance when sauntering home by nine lengths hard held.

The Gr1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (16h50) sees 19 runners go to the 3-mile starting point.

The three most fancied runners Ginto, Hillcrest and Minella Cocooner have all been successful frontrunning or racing prominently.

The giant English trained Hillcrest, owned by the late Trevor Hemmings, has been dominating his races from the front and on official ratings is only 2lbs below the unbeaten Ginto from the Gordon Elliott yard.

Ginto completed his hattrick over hurdles in a group one at Naas in January and should be suited to this longer trip.

Willie Mullins fields the progressive Minella Cocooner who won a Group One from the front at Leopardstown last time out and stable jockey Paul Townend now takes the ride. At the prices, his 8/1 odds are the most attractive in a competitive and open race.

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