Promotional Feature with BoyleSports
According to BoyleSports, the horseracing-focused bookmaker, Allmankind has received considerable support in the run up to the race. The horse was a fair sort on the Flat for Michael Bell, winning his maiden over 10 furlongs at Chelmsford by no fewer than six lengths. But he finished last in his two subsequent starts so connections decided to try something a little different for him.
After being gelded and undergoing a wind operation, Allmankind made his debut for Dan Skelton at Warwick in a run-of-the-mill hurdle race and the result was emphatic. He took a strong early hold and set about his task well. Having been gifted a soft lead, he sauntered clear with three flights of hurdles still to jump. Gaia Vallis gave vain pursuit, but was beaten around 32 lengths in the end. Allmankind was then upped in class to Grade Two company and once again he set out to make all for Harry Skelton. Despite losing a shoe through the race, he galloped on to record a two-and-a-half length win over Botox Has and Repititio.
His sternest test came in a Grade One race at Chepstow during the Welsh National meeting back in December. Again wearing his heart on his sleeve he set off in front, but never looked in any danger as his jockey did a fantastic job of holding him together. He has been wrapped in cotton wool ever since and has enjoyed the benefits of a two-month break.
Dan Skelton will have schooled him with the intention of persuading him to respect his hurdles a little more. According to BoyleSports odds on this horse have shortened as the betting looks to be in his favour. Conditions on the racecourse also look to be on his side for this fascinating opening race of the final day of the Festival.
Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
Christopher Wood absolutely relishes soft ground and he bounced back to form on it at Musselburgh just a few weeks ago. He has recently recovered from a wind operation and having been dropped in the ratings by the handicapper, Paul Nicholls took full advantage to get him back to winning ways.
Having track the leaders throughout the race he moved into second just before the third last flight. He took over two from home and really started to assert himself in the closing stages. He won by almost a dozen lengths in the end, recording his first win in almost 12 months.
With this race fresh in the memories of racing fans, the betting on this horse will be skewed towards him.
Plenty of use is likely to be made of him as he actually won over two furlongs further in the past and that came on ground very similar to this. Harry Cobden has partnered him to his three most recent wins and it looks ominous that he is back on board today. Paul Nicholls has won this race four times in the last 16 years with the likes of Sporazene, Desert Quest, American Trilogy and Lac Fontana. His yard has already enjoyed success at the Cheltenham Festival this year with Politilogue winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
In a race that is wide open, Christopher Wood is one of the few currently at the top of their game and he looks to have a solid each-way chance.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Monkfish won in the style of a decent up-and-coming sort when last seen out at Thurles back in January. He steadily improved as the race progressed and disputed the lead coming to the second last flight of hurdles. Paul Townend pushed him out for a comfortable 20-length success over the likes of Alpine Cobra and Vis Ta Loi.
The racehorse showed a likeable attitude with that most recent win and this slight step up in trip to three miles does not look as though it will inconvenience him in any way. He looks like a staying chaser in the making and he will rank among the elite in the Mullins yard if he can take this competitive renewal.
The betting is swinging towards the Irish here, who have a good recent record with Willie Mullins landing this race two years ago with the strong stayer Penhill. Minella Indo produced a win that shocked the betting markets with a win at 50/1 odds here last season and the likes of Martello Tower and Very Wood have all taken the prize back across the Irish Sea in recent seasons. Monkfish will not mind the testing ground and he looks a player for leading owner Rich Ricci.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
This is a close race to call with so much talent, but bookies are favouring Al Boum Photo with the betting around 3/1.
Smart bets could be focused on Delta Work, as this horse comes into the meeting as primed as he could be. He made his seasonal return behind Road To Respect in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, when he looked big in the parade ring. He very clearly needed the outing and he wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone.
His next outing was something a bit more like we are used to seeing from him. Last season’s top Irish staying novice, who had finished third in the RSA Chase, found the necessary improvement that was required. He responded well to pressure and gradually wore down the gallant Monalee in the Saviles Chase. He gave the impression that he would be suited by a stronger pace, and with a decent looking field looking likely at Cheltenham, that should be guaranteed.
Gordon Elliott earmarked him as a live Gold Cup contender as early as last season. The trainers’ hopes were heightened once again when Delta Work lined up for Paddy Power Gold Cup at Leopardstown at the beginning of February. Unbelievably, he was sent off as a second favourite to Kemboy and it was younger of the pair that would come out on top.
Having been held up, Delta Work began to take closer order after the seventh fence. He then had to be switched in order to press on with his challenge and despite a small blip when brushing through the last, he stayed on well for pressure to land the valuable prize. He is a strong candidate for this years’ showpiece and having won and been placed at previous Festivals will stand him in good stead.
Gordon Elliott landed this prize with Don Cossack back in 2016 and the trainer is confident enough about regaining the coveted prize.
Delta Work has shown a likeable attitude this season and he really has developed into the chaser that his trainer had hoped. I think he might have too much speed for Santini, while Al Boum Photo may have appreciated another prep run. There are definite question marks over Presenting Percy and Lostintranslation, while Clan Des Obeaux may be found wanting for stamina.
This race is run over three-and-a-quarter miles and only amateur jockeys are eligible to ride in it. Typically, you want a horse that has performed well at the track before. It is all too easy to be tempted into backing former ‘class handicappers’, but it is worth remembering that they are competing in this sphere for a reason and it may be best to side with those who have built up formidable records in hunter chases and point-to-points.
A horse worth betting on is Shantou Flyer – he seems to be peaking just at the right time and is more than capable of reversing form with last year’s conqueror Hazel Hill. Owned and likely to be partnered by the talented David Maxwell, this 10-year-old won his most recent hunter chase by 23 lengths. He knows every blade of grass around here and sees out this trip to good effect. It is hard to see him out of the frame given his jockey and there should be better to come.
Hazel Hill is back to defend his crown having won this in decent style last year. He was rather disappointing when beaten all too easily by Minella Rocco at Wetherby on his most recent start. At the age of 12, he may prove a little more vulnerable this time around and he could be usurped by an up-and-coming rival. Alex Edwards is very likely to be in the saddle and they are more than likely going to play a hand in the finish.
Staker Wallace is extremely lightly raced, but won his trial at Nenagh by eight lengths. There is no reason to believe that he will not see out this extra quarter mile, but to date he is unproven at it. He will prove popular given that he will be running in the colours of JP McManus and is trained by the brilliant Enda Bolger. While he is definitely going the right way, this may be a bridge too far as he may need a bit more experience behind him before he is capable of winning a race as competitive as this. The odds have also reflected this with betting sites like Paddy Power giving odds of 7/1 on this horse to win.
Shantou Flyer could well prove the answer here. He has been impressive and this will be the equivalent of his ‘Gold Cup’. A little more effort will be guaranteed from the saddle as David Maxwell will partner him once again. Shantou Flyer will have learned a lot since last year and with no worries in relation to stamina, the 10-year-old commands the utmost respect.