Thursday Cheltenham Festival Racing Tips: Fugitif one of seven for Thursday

 | March 13 | 

10 mins read

FUGITIF 133 Cheltenham

We switch to the old course to start Thursday's action. Behind us are those the short priced favourites of the opening two days, as we embark on an action-packed afternoon of competitive National Hunt Racing. As always, Betfred TV presenter Matt Hulmes is back with his predictions for Thursday's Cheltenham action. 

Thursday Cheltenham Betting Tips

  • 1:30 Iroko @ 5/1
  • 2:10 Icare Allen @ 9/1 Gowel Road @ 22/1
  • 2:50 Fugitif @ 20/1
  • 3:30 Teahupoo @ 7/4
  • 4:10 Crebilly @ 10/3
  • 4:50 Brighterdaysahead @ 11/8
  • 5:30 Rapper @ 16/1

1:30 Iroko @ 5/1

A decent looking renewal and one that Willie Mullins hasn't won since 2017 and it might just stay in Britain again.

Mullins is represented by Facile Vega, a horse he has always held in high regard but has been found out over fences in two grade ones already this season.

He's taken on by a trio of decent British novices.

Ginny’s Destiny is a three time course and distance winner following the same route as last season's winner for the Paul Nichols stable, Stage Star. He's made all in those successes and Harry Cobden will need to get his fractions spot on once again from the front.

Ginny's Destiny was arguably lucky to get the better of Grey Dawning in their December meeting after a mistake by the runner up cost him momentum at the second last. He is 3lbs better off for that effort now and should turn the tables but both may have to play second fiddle to former festival winner IROKO.

IROKO won the Martin Pipe last year and was very impressive on his chasing debut at Warwick. A subsequent injury seemed to curtail his season but connections have got him back. He schools well and was third in grade one compnay at Aintree last season. He may have a class edge and although lacking in experience over fences, he jumped really well on debut and he's the one to be on for me here.

IROKO HORSE RACING

2:10 Icare Allen @ 9/1 Gowel Road @ 22/1

Qualifiers have been run throughout the season for the Pertemps Final and a full field of twenty four will line up here.

Cleatus Poolaw caught plenty of eyes when finishing second at Naas on his most recent start, keepin on well after the last suggesting this three mile trip will be within range. He'll be popular ahead of the market as will Gaoth Chuil, another Irish raider who finished second at the Dublin Racing Festival when last seen for his shrewd trainer.

I like two runners here though.

Firstly, ICARE ALLEN, has been put away for this since an eye-catching 3rd at Aintree all the way back in November. That was his first effort at three miles and he gets to run off the same mark here this afternoon. He was highly tried as a juvenile running in the Triumph when fourth to Vauban and despite losing his way subsequently this three mile trip could be the making of him.

I would love to see White Rhino get a run having been to see him at his yard but he needs two to come out as the second reserve.

Springwell Bay won here at the track in November and qualified by finishing second at Musselburgh last time out. He was a high class novice hurdler while Kyntara, Shallow River and Mill Green all have form that ties in closely.

The second selection though comes from the Nigel Twiston-Davis yard and it isn't the four timer seeking Cuthbert Dibble who is effectively up 11lb for his Haydock win but he stayed well that day and could still have more room for improvement. The second vote goes to his two years old stablemate GOWEL ROAD. He looked likely to be well beaten at Exeter four weeks ago but plugged on for fourth to qualify through the back door. He is a course winner and is 3lb lower than when seventh in last year's Coral Cup and at a big price. With the extra places he is worth an each way interest

2:50 Fugitif @ 20/1

A brilliant and wide open renewal of this year's Ryanair chase with Envoi Allen back to defend his title and looking for a fourth successive win for owners Cheveley Park Stud. Ireland have also won seven of the last eight renewals. With Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead already off the mark this week the three time festival winner who has not been seen since a good second at Down Royal in November is certainly high on the list.

Banbridge must be doubtful on account of the ground and may head to Aintree instead like last year.

Stage Star, winner of last year's Turners and also landed the Paddy Power in November, needs to bounce back from a New Year's Day disappointment here over course and distance.

Conflated has unseated his rider at the final fence the last twice behind Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs at Leopardstown. They were over three miles so this intermediate trip, bearing in mind he was third in last year's Gold Cup could certainly see him thereabouts for the sponsors.

Horses like Ahoy Senor and Protektorat have tried Gold Cups previously and come up short so this slightly lower level could certainly see them involved well GA Law has been supplemented for this contest following a second course and distance win on trials day seven weeks back, form that was recently franked.

He could go well at a price as could FUGITIF. He's a true course specialist and finally got a deserved victory here in December. He was an eye-catching third in the Clarence House Chase staying on late over inadequate two miles in January. His Cheltenham record reads 222413 and is another overlooked in the market for this real competitive contest.

3:30 Teahupoo @ 7/4

The Stayers Hurdle is the most wide open championship event at this year's Cheltenham festival. The defection of Irish Point to the Champion on Tuesday has left his owner mate TEAHUPOO as a clear market leader.

Last year's third, beaten less than a length, has only been seen once this season when retaining his Hatton's Grace crown in December. He comes here fresh and is just a seven year old with potential for improvement to come. He could be a very tough nut to crack for Gordon Elliott who won last year's renewal with 33/1 outsider Sire Du Berlais.

Last year's victor has also only been seen once this season well beaten seventh four and a half weeks ago at Navan. However, his festival form figures read 411201 and he can't be discounted lightly.

He is one member of a team of rising teenagers that include Champ, Dashel Drasher and the legend that is Paisley Park who may just have one final swan song in them this year.

It may be beyond them all and a safer each way play could be the blinkered first time Home By The Lee. Only fifth last year after a mistake, that effort can be marked up and with connections already in the winner’s enclosure this week he looks a nice each way bet at a double figure price.

4:10 Crebilly @ 10/3

Three favourites have won in the last six running’s of the Plate and although we have had plenty of outsiders also go in, I think it pays to look at the top of the market this year.

On a line through Ginny’s Destiny, there is little to choose between Theatre Man and CREBILLY and little separates them in the betting.

Theatre Man chased home one of the Turners favourites on Trials Day in receipt of 13lb and had been earmarked as a potential Ultima candidate. However, the emphasis on stamina has seen connections opt for this shorter contest and I doubt we have seen the best of him after just a trio of chase starts.

The same though also applies to CREBILLY who beat two good rivals at Exeter recently. He was beaten further by Ginny’s Destiny than Theatre Man but was only receiving 5lb. previously he was travelling well behind the same rival when coming to grief late, an effort that could mean he is very well treated. He won a very competitive handicap at Sandown on the final day of the season and also was a credible sixth in last seasons EBF final. He certainly should be involved in the finish.

Shakem Up’Arry won decisively on New Year’s Day in bad ground and a 3lb rise may underestimate him, despite that making him 4lb higher than his third placed effort last season.

Saint Felicien heads the Irish challenge on his handicap debut, having taken on some decent Irish novice this term but he was pulled up as favourite in last years Coral Cup here.

At a huge price, I won’t let Torn And Frayed go unbacked. He is 1lb lower than a course and distance win two years ago. He has only had four starts since and was sixth behind Ryanair bound Fugitif in December. With extra places available, he could sneak a place at a big price.

CREBILLY 1

4:50 Brighterdaysahead @ 11/8

Three brilliant mares, unbeaten in fourteen races between them, will go head-to-head in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle with at least two of those records set to fall.

Representing the home team is last year’s Aintree Mares bumper heroine, Dysart Enos (who had Golden Ace nine lengths behind on Merseyside) and she has sauntered to victory in all three of her hurdle starts so far, including at Cheltenham in December. Fergal O’Brien, yet to saddle a Cheltenham Festival winner, is very hopeful she can end that drought and in any other year, she would be a standout.

Golden Ace is two form two over hurdles too and while I expect her to get closer to her Aintree conqueror, there are two Irish contenders who looks very useful indeed.

Willie Mullins won the first five renewals of this race and this year relies solely on Jade De Grugy who won her hurdles debut by fifteen lengths and was an easy Grade 3 winner on her last start at Fairyhouse, form that makes her a huge player.

The well named BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD could be very special though. She has hardly turned a hair in her three hurdle starts, only a late mistake seeing her shaken up briefly at Down Royal in November. It was a simple return at Navan after a small break over two miles five furlongs proving her stamina which will stand her in good stead here, and the vibes from Cullentra is that she is very good. She was earmarked as Gordon Elliotts and Jack Kennedys best chance this week in what could be the best renewal of this race we have witnessed.

5:30 Rapper @ 16/1

The Kim Muir rounds off Thursday’s action for the Amateur riders.

Inothewayurthinkin will take up most of the market for the owner/jockey combination that landed Tuesdays finale, the National Hunt Chase. He has twice finished behind Arkle winner Gaelic Warrior this season and was sent off at just 11/2 for the big handicap at the DRF but was hampered mid-race and a late mistake put paid to his chances. He has the services of top amateur Derek O’Connor and an appealing profile but looks short at around 7/2.

Cool Survivor has a similar profile, mixing it with good novices before fourth in the same Leopardstown race and has Henry Swan on top. He and last years winner Angels Dawn, who has 11lb more to carry, are also prominent in the market, while Whacker Clan and Amirite finished first and fourth here in an October so have had a sighter at the track.

All the above are Irish trained, but Britain had the one, two, four in the Ultima on Tuesday and I am hopeful that RAPPER can continue his renaissance. He is now just 1lb higher than when a runaway winner over track and trip on New Year’s Day last year and 4lb lower than when disappointingly pulled up in last years renewal as a 14/1 shot. He has a patchy record, but encouragement can be gleaned from his fourth place finish here in December and Ascot runner-up effort last month.

Bowtogreatness is another to consider for the home team, representing the warm Ben Pauling stable and ridden by Jack Andrews, whose sister Gina won this race in 2017.

 

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