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Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend in a schooling session ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. Picture: Healy Racing
Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend in a schooling session ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. Picture: Healy Racing
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Cheltenham tips: Jane Mangan marks your card for Friday's Festival

WE’RE into the home stretch and I hope we’re still in the green after three brilliant days of racing.

Day four can often be a “get out of jail” day and hopefully we can finish with a flourish!

The Triumph Hurdle is usually a race I detest. Slow stayers off the flat who can jump hurdles don’t often light my fire. However this season, Britain seems to have unearthed a few bright lights from France and a few off the flat which contribute to a really exciting renewal of the Triumph.

This time last year the entire country fell in love with the sadly ill-fated Sir Erec. He was a horse of immense potential and his story came to a premature end in this race. I wish all participants better fortune this time around and my flag will be flown by Gary Moore’s Goshen to out-shine his rivals.

With Allmankind an almost certain front runner, I hope Jamie Moore tracks the pace on Goshen and takes a lead for as long as possible. I’m sure Rachael Blackmore will have a similar plan in her mind aboard Henry de Bromhead’s Aspire Tower.

This will be a furiously run race and with Paul Nicholls’ impressive French import Solo likely to stalk the pace, I’ll be hoping it doesn’t turn into a slog. Goshen is a brother to Willie Mullins’ smart mare Elimay who, despite her tidy size, has shown great heart — let’s hope this guy can do the same to fend off his rivals in what is a fiercely competitive Triumph Hurdle.

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is a race often won by horses at big prices. Remember Minella Indo powering up the hill last year at 50/1?

It’s also a race that favours experience, battle-hardened horses. I’m a big fan of Latest Exhibition here for Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper.

A Grade 1 winner at the Dublin Racing Festival, this son of Oscar has danced every dance this season and finds plenty when the going gets tough. 

Interestingly from a pedigree perspective, three sons of Oscar out of Supreme Leader mares have won this race so Latest Exhibition has the right blood flowing through his veins to follow in the hoofprints of Blackjack Ketchum, At Fishers Cross, and Kilbricken Storm.

Thyme Hill is a worthy favourite and is probably the best novice hurdler in Britain but he has been laboured and got a seriously hard race in the Challow Hurdle last time. The last favourite to win this race is At Fishers Cross in 2013 so he might be one to take on and seek value with Latest Exhibition.

Willie Mullins saddles Monkfish in this, but surprisingly Mullins has a poor record in this particular race — he’s just one winner from 35 runners to date.

Now for the “pièce de résistance” — the race that every breeder, trainer, jockey, and horse wants to win. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the blue riband event of the season and today’s race is from the top drawer.

In the last 50 years, only two horses have managed to win back-to-back renewals of this race — Best Mate and L’Escargot in the 70s. Willie Mullins produced Al Boum Photo to win last year’s race off the back of only one prep race at Tramore and he’s hoping to repeat the trick today.

Al Boum Photo was his trainer’s 26th runner in the race and first winner last year and I think adopting the “Henrietta Knight route” to the race might just pay dividends. 

Delta Work has done very little wrong all year and deserves the utmost respect under Mark Walsh while last year’s favourite Presenting Percy could be one to outrun his odds.

The home challenge consists of dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and Colin Tizzard’s Betfair Chase winner Lostintranslation.

I tipped up Clan Des Obeaux last year and I won’t be staying loyal today — I question the strength of the King George, Footpad was too close to them turning in for it to be a vintage race.

Lostintranslation is unquestionably talented, but we haven’t seen him since pulling up in that race behind Clan Des Obeaux and while he has had a wind operation in the interim, it will have had to work magic to improve him that much.

Kemboy has his chance but all arrows point to Al Boum Photo for me, he’s a no-fuss staying chaser who should once again give his Cork rider Paul Townend another day to remember.

 Al Boum Photo, Paul Townend and Willie Mullins will can repeat last year’s Gold Cup success. Picture: Healy Racing

Al Boum Photo, Paul Townend and Willie Mullins will can repeat last year’s Gold Cup success. Picture: Healy Racing

SELECTIONS:

  • 1.30pm: Triumph Hurdle, Goshen, Jamie Moore, Gary Moore.
  • 2.10pm: County Handicap Hurdle, Ciel De Neige, Mark Walsh, Willie Mullins.
  • 2.50pm: Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, Latest Exhibition, Bryan Cooper, Paul Nolan.
  • 3.30pm: Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo, Paul Townend, Willie Mullins.
  • 4.10pm: Foxhunter Chase, Hazel Hill, Alex Edwards, Philip Rowley.
  • 4.50pm: Grand Annual Chase, Chosen Mate, Davy Russell, Gordon Elliiott.
  • 5.30pm: Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, Front View, JJ O’Neill Jr,
    Joseph O’Brien.