By ANDREW ATKINSON Friday March 17 Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, with a first prize of £327,462 up for grabs, is the showcase race on day 4 of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival – with a plethora of horses in with a chance.
With nothing separating leading contenders Djakadam (10/3), Cue Card (7/2) and Native River (7/2) in the betting, run over 3 miles 2 furlongs, with Sizing John (8/1), Outlander (8/1), Empire Of Dirt (10/1), More Of That (12/1), Champagne West (16/1), Bristol De Mai (20/1), Minella Rocco (20/1), Tea For Two (50/1), Smad Place (50/1), Saphir Du Rheu (66/1), and Irish Cavalier (66/1) making it a race to savour.
The Leader has tipped NATIVE RIVER (3.30) to land the money. Native River finished second in the 2016 Cheltenham Festival National Hunt Chase. Unbeaten over fences this year – winning both the Hennessy and the Welsh Grand National – Native River, ridden by Richard Johnson, is the one they have to beat.
Trainer Colin Tizzard, who also trains Cue Card, said he cannot split the pair: “The ground won’t effect either of them, that won’t be an excuse. I wouldn’t be able to split them – that’s not just me sitting on the fence,” said Tizzard.
In the JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2 miles DEFI DU SEUIL (1.30) trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson is The Leader selection.
26 runners line up in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) over 2 miles, with DIEGO DU CHARMIL (2.10) tipped to shine. Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies Diego Du Charmil odds of 14-1 look good each-way value.
In the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2m 7f MONALEE (2.50) is picked to thwart favourite Death Duty (13/8). Trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by David Mullins, 8-1 chance Monalee is good each-way value.
ON THE FRINGE (4.10) trained by Enda Bolger is tipped in the St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase over 3m 2 furlongs: “On The Finge is certainly in great form – and gives no indication he isn’t as good as ever,” said Bolger.
RUNFORDAVE (4.50) trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Donnagh Meyler is The Leader’s each-way selection in the 24 runners Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f at odds of 8-1.
In the final race of the four day meeting The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) over 2m THEINVAL (5.30) trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Jeremiah McGrath is The Leader’s each-way selection at odds of 12-1.