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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Cheltenham Value Punts – Bally a Bet in Coral Cup


There are now entries in all but three of the races at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. With the handicap entries having come out earlier this week, Matty Sutcliffe has picked out a fancy in the Coral Cup on Wednesday at a double-figure price.

Published: 9.15am, 21st February (Odds correct at time of publication)

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Coral Cup – Ballyadam (20/1 generally, 25/1 William Hill E/W)

BALLYADAM has been crying out for the Coral Cup trip for two years now, I’m still surprised they didn’t go down this route last season, but nevertheless Henry De Bromhead has all but confirmed he’ll be going for the Coral Cup this season, so we’ll finally see him over this sharp 2m5f test on the old course. 

The 2021 Supreme second is winless over hurdles since his Grade 1 Royal Bond success the previous year, but has run several solid races in defeat. He’s been tricky to place over the years, but after a string of disappointing efforts he was a six lengths fifth to State Man in the 2022 County Hurdle, staying on eye-catchingly well after a slight bit of trouble in running. It goes without saying that race worked out very well, and he was only beaten four lengths by Gaelic Warrior in the Liffey Handicap Hurdle prior to posting an RPR 3lb higher (150) in the 2023 County Hurdle when finishing fifth again, beaten four lengths in a typically deep renewal. That was off a 4lb higher mark than the previous years and he once again shaped like a step up in distance would suit. He was subsequently far from disgraced behind the Plate winner Seddon over 2m3f in a Grade B Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown, giving weight plenty of weight away to the front four despite being equipped with a 6lb claimer. 

Ballyadam was undoubtedly becoming frustrating for connections, having then been sent off the 11/8F in a beginners chase at Ballinrobe where he bumped into Hercule Du Seuil, who is now rated 150 over fences after four subsequent victories including two Grade 3’s the last twice. Back up in distance to 2m4f, Ballyadam finally rewarded connections with a victory over fences when upped to 2m4f around Wexford, where despite some not so fluent jumping, he stayed on strongly to beat two subsequent winners. He then took his record off a break to to 31F003 (1st came as a novice hurdler in 2020) when third to Irish Point in the Grade 1 Jack De Bromhead Christmas Hurdle, where 2m7f on heavy ground off a break will have undoubtedly been a big ask. Nevertheless, he didn’t look out of place in that company, or over the distance, given the winner is now 3/1 in places for the Stayers’ Hurdle. The second was rated 154 over hurdles, the third was second in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle next time out, and the fifth won the race last season. 

With that promising effort behind him, he can be a big player now dropping back to 2m5f. His top seven RPR’s have come in field sizes between 13-26 including the last two County Hurdles and his top three RP speed figures have come at Cheltenham, so we know this test should suit him down to a tee.

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