The fourth and final day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival is here, with Al Boum Photo attempting to defend his Gold Cup crown.
Defeats for Defi Du Seuil and Paisley Park over the past two days have busted many a coupon. Yesterday’s Tote Placepot paid out an attractive £2,556.80 in light of the latter’s seventh in the Stayers’.
Placepot – Day Four
1.30 – (1) Allmankind
2.10 – (2) Aramon
(20) Elusive Belle
2.50 – (14) Ramses De Teillee
3.30 – (1) Al Boum Photo
4.10 – (11) Hazel Hill
4.50 – (15) Croco Bay
A hugely exciting contest in store in which Allmankind gets my vote. He’s been a runaway winner of all three starts over hurdles, including a nine-length success at Chepstow over Christmas. He’s not looked like stopping despite his tendency to race freely, so the Cheltenham hill holds no concerns.
The first of three fiercely competitive handicaps on the final day. Aramon is near the head of the weights, but he was a very useful novice last term, beaten just a head by Klassical Dream at the Dublin Racing Festival. He ran a recent career best when a close fifth to Honeysuckle, and we all know what she’s done since.
One nearer the foot of the weights is Nicky Henderson’s Elusive Belle. Twice a winner last term as a novice, she was only beaten ten-lengths by Epatante on her return. Having pulled far too hard at Kempton last time, the strong pace looks sure to suit here and a mark of 136 shouldn’t prevent her from figuring.
The Albert Bartlett requires a different skill set to the other two novice hurdles. The grittiest and most battle hardened customers often come to the fore, and with the last six winners returning at double-digit prices, Ramses De Teillee has to be of huge interest.
Placed in the Welsh National last term, he’s won all three starts over hurdles this year, including back to back Grade Two successes. His profile isn’t as eye-catching as a few of the less exposed contenders, but he’s a hardy sort who is more than capable of running into a place at least.
Last year’s winner Al Boum Photo is the current favourite, and justifiably so in my mind. He powered clear to land the race last term and was mightily impressive on his preparation run at Tramore. Kept fresh by the master of Closutton and facing a field of contenders with questions to answer regarding stamina, he’s the one for me.
I’m siding with another winner from 2019 here. Hazel Hill has a terrific strike-rate, winning seventeen of his twenty-three starts. A four-length victory last term was followed by two more wins prior to finishing second to Minella Rocco at Wetherby. Four pounds better off with that rival, he has a cracking shout of doubling up.
Lisp enjoyed the hustle and bustle of big-field handicaps over hurdles, placed in both graded and listed company in 2018. He’s ran well in all three starts over fences this term in small fields, including when a close third to Mister Fisher in a Grade Two. Alan King’s charge will appreciate the return to a big field and is completely unexposed over the larger obstacles.
The veteran Croco Bay enjoys this race, third in 2015, fifth the following year, before a 66/1 success last term. He’s five pounds higher this time around, but he ran a cracker in defeat at Doncaster last time out. He can support the youngster Lisp in the sixth leg.