The big week is finally here! GG tipster Kevin O’Malley gets his week off to a start with a flurry of value selections throughout the afternoon on Day 1 at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival....
We lost both of our ante-post bets in the four miler on Now Mcginty and Mister Malarky, who look RSA bound. A shame, but I’ve had a nibble at three horses at big prices in the last. Skipthecuddles is a quirky sort but very capable, he arrives in form and Lily Pinchin is a solid amateur jockey. Just Your Type is a thorough stayer who won’t mind if this turns attritional, while Beyond The Law is also a testing ground horse who hasn’t had his conditions since last season. This is a big step up, but I think he’s all stamina and it’s not a terribly strong looking renewal bar the Jolly.
Earlier on, we’ll back up the Al Dancer bet with Fakir D’Oudairies, who I’ve come to really like for the race, especially since it is due to lash it down tonight. Joseph O’Brien’s top quality juvenile gets 8lb all round here, he’s open to improvement and having watched back the manner in which he destroyed a field of his peers here on Trials Day, I’m finding it difficult to see him not running a huge race under J J Slevin. I’ve also had a small bite at Brandon Castle at huge odds.
In the Ultima, I’m excited to see how Tom George’s Activial gets on. He didn’t have the pace for Siruh Du Lac and Janika over 2m4f here the last day, but history may well show this race to be a good renewal and Activial jumped well the whole way and found plenty up the hill at his own pace. I think the step up in trip brings him right into this. Three starts back he hammered Magic Saint by 16 lengths at Hereford, and that horse is now favourite for the Grand Annual.
In the Champion Hurdle you all know I’ve been a sucker for Verdana Blue all season. It looks like the rain will come just in time to scupper her realistic chances of a) winning and b) even running. Such a shame, especially with Davy Russell booked. Other than that, I’m happy to watch and enjoy this one. Apple's Jade if on song, Laurina if not, Buveur there to expose any chinks.
In the Mares’ Hurdle at 4.10pm, I’m really keen on two of Willie Mullins’ runners at bigger prices other than his odds-on favourite Benie Des Dieux. Stormy Ireland is developing nicely. She’s ran well in defeat to two live Champion Hurdle hopes of late and should be primed to produce a career best here. Good Tyne Tara has a bit to find, but equally she has been operating at Listed and Graded level all season, she’ll be fit as a flea and the fact she makes her first trip to Cheltenham suggests she’s in good heart. Mullins isn’t in the habit of running them without a chance. Good Tyne Tara is a slick jumper and conditions should be fine, as she is versatile ground wise.
The Close Brothers at 4.50pm is as tough a handicap as you’ll find this week, but Springtown Lake represents a Philip Hobbs yard returning to peak at just the right time and his 7yo could be well handicapped off 141 if producing the best of his form this season. Having the Champion jockey on board is always a bonus. Quamino was one I mentioned in the GG Cheltenham Handicaps Podcast and I’m delighted he gets a run. He could do without it being really testing for sure, but does get into the race on a real nice mark after a strong staying performance over 2m1f at Leopardstown. Bryan Cooper gets on well with the horse and the step up in trip, hopefully, can bring about a little improvement.
All prices correct at the time of writing in the GG Tips Den, per the top/joint top prices available on the GG.CO.UK Racecards.
You can get in touch with me via email: Kevin.OMalley@GG.CO.UK OR by finding me on Twitter: @KOM_GGRacing
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