The Walkabout bar in Temple, London hosted one of the most raucous Cheltenham evenings of the year as 500 people crammed in hoping to hear some pearls of wisdom from the legendary Rich Ricci at Betbright’s Cheltenham Festival preview evening. We’ve filtered out the boring bits, so read on to find out the key information the panel shared.
Before we get to that, a quick recap of the panel:
- Rich Ricci
- Sam Twiston-Davies
- Paul Kealy
- Joe Chambers
- MC: Matt Chapman
Skipping to the end of the preview, and the news everyone wanted was Vautour and his potential Gold Cup chances. It was obvious from everything Rich Ricci said that if the Gold Cup is a race he really wants to win, and ideally with Ruby on board. On whether he runs in the Ryanair Chase or the Gold Cup:
“Vautour is working OK but I’m not seeing that spark. If he’s right, he runs in the Gold Cup. If he’s not right, he won’t go. I do think Vautour stays the Gold Cup trip…if he doesn’t we come back and win the next two Ryanairs!”
He went on to say it’s not decided whether Ruby will decide to ride Vautour or Djakadam, but Paul Townend will get next pick after Ruby has chosen.
Rich Ricci’s Lucky 15 Tip
We were lucky enough to get 4 horses for a Lucky 15 out of Rich Ricci’s own mouth, and they were as follows:
- Douvan (Arkle)
- Limini (Mares Hurdle)
- Annie Power (Champion Hurdle)
- Vroum Vroum Mag (Mares Hurdle)
Limini was described as his “best chance” and is definitely the horse they fancy the most for the Festival.
Ricci opened by pulling no punches – “Min is our best novice and certainly our fastest. He’s not as good as Douvan but he is as good as Vautour.” He did go on, however, to say he thought the 7/4 currently available about the favourite didn’t offer any value and he thinks he could be a bigger price on the day. Interesting, Betbright (who Ricci is chairman of) are the joint shortest price around at just 5/4. The panel identified the main danger to Min as Altior; Henderson is reported to be very bullish about his chances. Joe Chambers, Ricci’s racing manager, said he thought Min would win by 6 lengths on the day!
Ricci had plenty of good things to say about Douvan, who is clearly his stable favourite. “He is something special – a lovely, lovely horse. He’s a monster and it would be disappointing if he doesn’t win the Arkle.” Joe Chambers reported Nicky Henderson had said Vaniteux is “one of the best hoses I’ve ever run in the Arkle” but Ricci didn’t seem at all worried…while Garde Le Victoire of Philip Hobbs will go to the JLT, not the Arkle. Sam Twiston-Davies reported that Bristol De Mai would like some cut in the ground for his JLT shot, and it does sound like the softer the better for his dad’s horse.
More Of That was mentioned favourably – suggestions Jonjo O’Neill thinks he would have a good shot at the Gold Cup itself this year, not just the RSA – while the crowd were very vocal about the discussion of Annie Power‘s Champion Hurdle chances. Ricci admitted he now thinks he made a mistake going for the World Hurdle, and went as far to say “If it was tomorrow, we would supplement.” The overwhelming appearance is that, as long as Vroum Vroum Mag is fit and they think she’ll win the Mares, Annie will definitely go for the Champion Hurdle.
Back to Novice Hurdlers, and Long Dog was discussed for the Neptune Novices Hurdle. Ricci said he’s got a good Each Way chance (current price 12/1) and he’d be “disappointed if Long Dog doesn’t hit the frame.” Moving up in trip, Thomas Hobson seems to be sure to be aimed at the Albert Bartlett (3 miles), and Ricci said he “will run a huge race”. Both Ricci and Chambers were keen on Bleu Et Rouge though, who is a current 20/1 shot – he’s an out and out stayer and a tasty price.
Kalkir was injured on the gallops, so will be missing Cheltenham unfortunately, but Squouateur – owned by J P McManus and trained by Gordon Elliott – was mentioned very favourably by all the panelists. He holds entries to the County Hurdle, Martin Pipe Conditionals Hurdle and Coral Cup so stick with Non Runner No Bet. Sticking with handicaps, Orbasa – who holds a number of handicap entries – has a very generous mark according to Joe Chambers and is available at 25/1 for all the 4 races he’s entered in, although not those odds NRNB.
Sam Twiston-Davies’ two bigger price suggestions were Clan Des Obeaux for the Triumph Hurdle – apparently he has being working very well with Dodging Bullets – and another Nicholls’ horse Diego Du Charmil who is 8/1 for the Fred Winter off a mark of 133 having never run in the UK. He was also bullish about Dodging Bullets who he claimed could improve 2 stone from his Newbury run and could find the race falling into his lap if Un De Sceaux and Special Tiara go off hard in front with some extra stamina in the bank.
Our Cheltenham tips are being updated daily and we have handicap tips to come this weekend! Make sure to see our Cheltenham Festival betting tips section for free tips, trends, race previews and more.