Cheltenham Festival 2021: Day Four Preview
The final day of the Festival is headlined as ever by the Cheltenham Gold Cup and it's a mouth-watering renewal that could see Al Boum Photo record his third straight victory in the race. Here we preview the flagship race of the week, along with all the other action on day four...
There have been a few big-priced winners in this contest in recent renewals but the top of the market looks very strong this year. Denise Foster’s Zanahiyr, unbeaten this season, is another big Irish talking horse and while any of his achievements so far are yet to receive a form boost this week, he won in such an imperious manner that he could very easily put this field to the sword. Former stablemate Quilixios beat a very similar bunch of horses when winning a Grade 1 last time out and is likely to give the favourite the most to do, while domestic challenger Tritonic was a good winner of the Adonis last time but will probably have to step up again to get his head in front.
Stattler and Fakiera have been vying for favouritism for this gruelling contest for some time. Both have last-time-out form that ties in with Ballymore second Gaiilard Du Mesnil, but neither screamed Albert Bartlett winner based on that performance. Moreover, French-bred horses have a poor record in the race which counts against Fakiera. Barbados Buck’s has been well supported in the last week and is proven over the trip, but he has been doing most of his winning over flatter tracks. Tom Lacey’s Adrimel is definitely of interest based on his gutsy win in a Grade 2 at Warwick in bottomless conditions but preference would be for Alaphilippe. Fergal O’Brien’s charge was a 14-length winner of the trial for this race, and while that was moved to Haydock this year, the race has seen three runners go on to win this. He’s proven over the trip and makes plenty of appeal.
Al Boum Photo attempts to win his third straight Gold Cup and his chance is there for all to see, enjoying his usual winning prep run around Tramore last time. He’s undoubtedly the horse they all have to beat. However, he faces possibly his toughest task to date if he’s to do so; old foes like Native River and Kemboy return, the latter of which has been in excellent form this season in winning the Irish Gold Cup. And there are young upstarts in the form of Champ and A Plus Tard. The former has had a slightly offbeat prep when running second in the Game Spirit but perhaps as Tom Collins of the Racing Post noted in our Festival preview, running over a shorter trip may have actually got the horse fitter than he otherwise would over a longer one. As for A Plus Tard, he definitely has the class but he almost ran too well in the Savills and there has to be a question mark over how much that took out of him. In summary, an excellent renewal of the race with Al Boum Photo possibly just having the edge.
- Al Boum Photo
- A Plus Tard
Elsewhere on day four…
Third Time Lucki is of obvious interest in the County Hurdle at 1.55pm for a yard that have a fine record in the race but Gowel Road was another Supreme Novices’ defector and can go well at a price. The Mare’s Chase at 4.15pm looks like a head to head between Elimay and Colreevy but the Martin Pipe at 4.50pm to close the Festival is - as always - much more competitive. Gigginstown have an excellent record in the race so all of their runners must be afforded maximum respect with Frontal Assault possibly the most interesting. In addition, Willie Mullins has clocked up a trio of victories and he saddles the totally unexposed Gentleman De Mee. But while David Pipe has struggled to hit the board in a race he targets for obvious reasons, he saddles two very interesting contenders this year in Martinhal and First Lord De Cuet. Preference is for the latter with the excellent Page Fuller booked.