Cheltenham Preview Night: Racing Post’s finest give their Cheltenham NAPS

Sire Du Berlais winning the Pertemps under Barry Geraghty at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

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“I think he’ll struggle”

Tom Segal had some very interesting views regarding the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo goes for a third successive victory in the Blue Riband event, but Segal isn’t backing him to do so. Speaking on the panel, Segal said: “I think the form of last year’s race is very, very moderate in comparison to this one. We’ve got Champ who ran well in a Grade 2 over two miles and we’ve got A Plus Tard that beat Chacun Pour Soi over two miles. We know they stay, so he’s up against much faster, much better horses; I think he’ll [Al Boum Photo] struggle.”

For Segal, A Plus Tard is the one to side with. A Grade 1 winner over two miles, he proved his stamina in no uncertain terms with a last gasp victory in the Savills Chase over Christmas. He’s completely unexposed as staying chaser and the best is surely yet to come. He’ll get his ideal ground conditions next week and there’s a huge amount to like about his chances.

“I think he’ll go off closer to 6/4”

Moving away from the big Grade 1 contests, David Jennings goes the handicap route for his bet of the week. The horse in question is Imperial Alcazar, who bids for glory in the Pertemps on day three of the meeting.

Speaking about his chances, Jennings said: “I think he’ll go off closer to 6/4, I can’t for the life of me understand why he’s 6/1. I think when people realise just how poor this race is they are going to get stuck into Imperial Alcazar“.

Are they right to do so? It’s hard to disagree. He posted a career-best effort when qualifying for the race last time, winning as he liked at Warwick. He’ll be eight pounds higher at the Festival, which is no help, but he remains lightly-raced as a stayer.

Given his reserves of stamina, he’ll relish chasing a strong pace over the Pertemps trip and the slightly better ground conditions next week should help him get home. With that in mind, he has to enter calculations in a big way.

“He’ll be miles too fast”

Paul Kealy’s NAP of the week was Lieutenant Rocco, but with that horse ruled out, we’re including his Friday NAP and a horse he was very sweet on in the form of Tritonic. Rated 99 on the flat, he’s been mightily impressive over timber this season. On both occasions, he’s utilized a devastating turn of foot to quicken away from his rivals, latterly in the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton.

For Kealy, there’s simply no question about whether to back Tritonic or Zanahiyr. Speaking of Tritonic, Kealy said: “I don’t know why people are picking holes in his jumping, he jumps perfectly okay. He’s got that group class speed, two hurdles in the last seven furlongs anyway, a long hill to run up which he will absolutely grab and I just think he’ll be miles too fast for everything else“.

Tritonic seemingly has all the hallmarks of a perfect Triumph horse and it’s impossible to deny his chances.

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