Lydia Hislop: Destination Cheltenham
Lydia Hislop outlines her ante-post positions for the final two days of the Cheltenham Festival.
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My previously recommended bet, Plinth, might yet run, but it's hard to be confident that he'll play a part in the finish. I can strenuously craft an argument that he'll jump and therefore run much better than last time on a sounder surface and on a track that places less emphasis on jumping in the heat of the race. He's also been toughened by a stint on the Flat, so I'm not tearing up my ticket.
Le Rocher has the best form in the race and, if he handles the faster ground, will be hard to beat. He probably should be favourite. Gitane Du Berlais would be a potent threat if - and this is perhaps more of an 'if' - she handles the ground.
Already recommended: Plinth @ 14/1
Kings Palace has been the longest held opinion in this series of columns and, thankfully, he's set to line up. He stays well, handles drying ground and jumps like stink. I wouldn't swap him for any horse in the field.
I harbour two small doubts. First, I would have preferred a run since December, which David Pipe told me on Racing UK on Saturday had been the intention, but the horse has had a racecourse gallop. Second, I hope rider Tom Scudamore is not induced to be too aggressive.
Already recommended: Kings Palace @ 5/1
Two horses rightly dominate the market: last year's winner, Bobs Worth, and the King George hero, Silviniaco Conti. My personal bet in this year's race was Sir Des Champs (injured) but I saved on Bobs Worth after his Betfair Chase flop. However, were I to be having a bet now, I'd back Silviniaco Conti at the prices.
My reasoning is that Bobs Worth is priced up on last year's form. He is unbeaten at Cheltenham, is a marvelously tough little nut and did well to win a steadily run Lexus at Christmas time.
However, on paper, that form does not compare to his Gold Cup and Hennessy last year, nor to Silviniaco Conti's King George. Judged on how strongly he stayed at Kempton, that horse probably still had every chance when coming down three out in this race last year.
Given how these two dominate, enterprising bookmakers might introduce a 'betting without the front two' market, in which case Teaforthree would make plenty of appeal each-way as an overpriced horse. Triolo D'Alene will surely run well, but he's already been backed.
Recommendations: Silviniaco Conti @ 3/1
Teaforthree each-way in any 'betting without Bobs Worth & Silviniaco Conti' market