Path To Prestbury: BetBright Trials Day, Gowran Park and Cheltenham Gold Cup Picture

Updated: 23/06/2024

Last week felt like the jumps season finally got going.

In what has been a very underwhelming season overall, we finally got to see a few horses seriously throw down the gauntlet in terms of the Cheltenham Festival.

Excitement is starting to pick up, and with the Dublin Racing Festival on the horizon, the season might be getting going rather belatedly.

BetBright Trials Day

I must hold my hands up, I really underestimated Paisley Park.

That was a really strong performance, and he slammed his rivals with consummate ease. 11/4 about his chances in the 2019 Stayers Hurdle is fair, and on form this season he is the standout performer in this division.

I wouldn’t completely dismiss Black Op just yet, he was too close to a crazy early gallop, on his first start over three miles under rules and might well place on the day if given a more compassionate ride off the pace. However, there can be no doubt that he has it all to do to get near Paisley Park in March.

Black Op fans will no doubt be hoping for rain come festival week.

I still wouldn’t swap Penhill for anything in the race, but Emma Lavelle’s charge is a most worthy competitor and is clearly the one to beat.

Frodon saw off Elegant Escape in a thrilling renewal of the BetBright Cotswold Chase, but you’d be disappointed if either of these played a serious hand in a Gold Cup.

Forgetting the festival for a minute, what a servant Frodon has been to connections. An absolute warrior of a horse.

Fakir D'Oudairies showed that Ireland yet again hold all the aces when it comes to the Triumph Hurdle. He was superb in winning the Triumph Trial, easing away to beat his stable companion Fine Brunello by 13 lengths.

The scary thing is that Fakir D'Oudairies probably isn’t even Joseph O’Brien’s best horse in the division. Roll on the rematch between Tiger Tap Tap and the much-vaunted Sir Erec at the Dublin Racing Festival.

We’ll know a lot more about this division after that rematch with both sets of connections seemingly sweet on their respective charge’s chances.

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Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.

Gowran Park

Kilkenny in Ireland was the scene of a terrific Thursday’s racing, where the softish ground led to bigger fields than what we’d be accustomed to in recent years.

Willie Mullins called the current weather “mental”, but his yard appeared to get over the bug that was clouding his representatives in recent weeks with a few timely results.

Cilaos Emery showed he could well be an Arkle contender with a smooth victory. We can’t forget he is already a Grade One winner and could yet play a hand in a very open looking Arkle.

Presenting Percy is back and it’s easy to see why so many people fancy him for a Gold Cup.

Nothing really went right for Pat Kelly’s Charge in the Galmoy Hurdle, yet he still won.

Nothing was able to give him a lead for as long as Davy Russell would’ve wanted, he looked to be idling up the run in and kept going despite being on his own on the outside for a lot of the race.

He’s a fantastic horse.

What made me laugh was the efforts Davy Russell and Pat Kelly were going to after the race in order to dampen down the excitement, even mentioning a potential run in the Stayers!

I’m more likely to run in a Stayers Hurdle than Pat Kelly’s charge is.

They more than likely have their eye on a better price than the 11/4 he currently is. Who can blame them?

All joking aside, I’m finished taking him on – he’ll have another run at Gowran Park, this time over fences and he should take all the beating in the Gold Cup.

Speaking of the Gold Cup, Invitation Only showed he is an out and out stayer when winning the Theystes Chase and there’s worse 25/1 shots running at the festival.

He could place – but beating Alpha Des Obeaux doesn’t mean you will get next or near Presenting Percy.

As I’ve stated, I’m not interested in taking on Presenting Percy in any big way, but after the aforementioned Invitation Only franked his form, I’m keen on the each-way chances of Al Boum Photo.

Bet on Cheltenham

Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.

Gold Cup Picture

After Presenting Percy it truly is anyone’s race.

Native River obviously has his chance, after a decent trial run when finishing third in the King George at Kempton, a racecourse that was never going to suit him.

I’m just always wary of a horse coming back after winning a Gold Cup, they rarely seem to be the same animals after it. I’d love to see him win it, but at 9/2 I’m happy to overlook him for now at least. Were the rain to finally arrive, he’d obviously be a completely different proposition.

Despite winning key trial’s, I’d be disappointed were Clan Des Obeaux or Kemboy able to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Two very good horses, but I feel they won their respective trials when everything else either didn’t run or didn’t fire. 7/1 for both doesn’t represent value to my eyes for win purposes at least.

I’d love Clan Des Obeaux for the Aintree Bowl, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

I’m not convinced Road To Respect is quite good enough, I fear Might Bite is gone at the game and I’m not sure how much is left in Thistlecrack, despite a mammoth effort in the King George. I’m just not convinced the form of that Kempton run is going to prove overly strong.

I firmly believe Al Boum Photo is the horse with the most improvement left in him.

One big issue with this horse is his propensity to make an absolute howler at one, showed by the fact that he failed to complete in three of his six runs last season.

He obviously has to be forgiven for that faithful day when Paul Townend elected to miss the last fence, taking out Finians Oscar in the Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival!

Al Boum Photo has showed how talented he can be when he puts it all together, like when comfortable winning the Grade One Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase last season, when despite making errors he got so close to Monalee in the Flogas Novice Chase, and on his reappearance this season when easily dismissing Total Recall (he had to give him 10lb), Invitation Only and Alpha Des Obeaux in the Savills Chase at Tramore.

Al Boum Photo was going to be placed in the RSA last season when falling at the second last. He met that fence all wrong and gave Ruby Walsh no chance.

With the way race worked out, I think he would’ve finished strongly and ran on for second as Monalee clearly didn’t stay the 3 miles at Prestbury Park.

I don’t think anything beats Presenting Percy, but Al Boum Photo has the improvement left in him to follow him home, and maybe give him a race.

After all, he was only six last season and achieved a very high level of form. 14/1 might just prove to be too big.

Bet on Cheltenham

Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.

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