In the latest of GG’s Cheltenham Festival previews, Karl hedley (@Karlhedley1) analyses the main contenders in the Coral Cup and gives us his latest Cheltenham tips
Ideally you want a horse aged no older than eight and they would preferably have an official rating of 143 or higher. Previous Festival form does not usually count for a lot in trying to determine any subsequent winner of this race as only five previous winners of it in the last twenty years had any sort of previous Cheltenham Festival form.
The Irish have started to focus their minds on training winners of this race and have taken three of the four most recent renewals.
Easywork was far from disgraced when beaten nearly ten lengths by the vastly improving Asterion Forlonge in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Leopardstown last month and a tilt at this prize looks one of the easier options for connections to take.
He would be of particular interest if Davy Russell were to take the ride as the jockey has won this race three times since 2008. The softer the ground, the better are his chances and having won over 2m4f previously, stamina will not be an issue.
Harry Senior has done nothing but improve as the season has progressed for Colin Tizzard. He won a Grade 2 hurdle at Cheltenham back in January, when he readily accounted for the likes of King Roland and Protektorat. The further he went that day, the better he looked and this six-year-old has to be high on any shortlist.
Birchdale is unbelievably talented on his day and won his first two starts under rules including at this track in January 2019.
He was completely outclassed over three miles at the Festival last year when beaten by Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett and was sent chasing at Ascot last November, when he finished third of four to Angel’s Breath.
It will be of little surprise to see him redirected back over hurdles to see if he can recapture his form and his chances will only increase if Barry Geraghty gets the leg up.
Indefatigable is a remarkably consistent mare for trainer Paul Webber. She produced a career best when taking a Mares’ listed hurdle at Warwick in early February. Always prominent that day, she stayed on well in the closing stages to see off the challenge of Copper Gone West.
She has plenty of experience in big fields which will be an asset in a race of this nature. The better the ground, the better are her chances and with Gavin Sheehan likely to take the ride, the duo are worthy of consideration.
Nicky Henderson has a fantastic record in this particular race having taken it three times since 2010.
All three of his winners have carried more than eleven stone to victory and Birchdale must have a good chance of replicating that from his current mark. If he can be rejuvenated back to somewhere near his previous form over hurdles, he has to come in to the reckoning.
He has not been seen on a racetrack since November, so he will come into this as a relatively fresh horse. It is unlikely that we have seen the best of the six-year-old and he has an each way squeak here.
Karl Hedley’s Best Bet