Cheltenham

Will Smith’s Day 4 Preview

Friday 18th March 13:30

WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview for Day 4 of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival on Friday 18th March.

Bookie Selection Best Odds Market Bet
Fil Dor 6/16/1 E/W
1.30 - Triumph Hurdle
Will Smith
Place BetPlace Bet
Colonel Mustard 6/16/1 E/W
2:10 - County Hurdle
Will Smith
Place BetPlace Bet
Minella Indo 9/29/2 E/W
3.30 - Gold Cup
Will Smith
Place BetPlace Bet
Langer Dan 5/15/1 E/W
5.30 - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
Will Smith
Place BetPlace Bet

Date of Tips: 17/03/2022

Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (18:56 17/03/2022) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.

The 2022 Cheltenham Festival has delivered every bit of promise, hope and excitement that it had threatened in the build-up – indeed, you get the sense that the most famous and awe-inspiring of all natural amphitheatres has a few last dramatic acts up it’s glorious sleeve for Gold Cup day.

So far, this column has found it tricky to land in the winner’s enclosure, but keeping the profit ticking over have been big-priced place returns of the likes of Tea Clipper, Queen’s Brook, Vanillier, I Am Maximus and Mister Coffey.

With no ante-post selections running into Day Four, it is with a clean slate and a clear-headed opinion that I can approach Gold Cup day.

The JCB Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 looks like a shootout between Vauban and Pied Piper according to the market. But Pied Piper’s stablemate Fil Dor, the recent combatant of Vauban, surely has a better each-way chance than his current odds of 6/1 with Paddy Power imply, particularly with 4 places to aim at.

Always considered as Gordon Elliott’s Triumph Hurdle horse, ever since winning at Down Royal last autumn, the New Course combined with the staying trip of 2m1f for juveniles, and the softening of the ground after Wednesday, make Fil Dor a very solid each-way chance at 6/1 with Paddy Power, to give Vauban more of a race than at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Next up is the McCoy Contractors County Hurdle at 2.10, and even before Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle was fought out between Sir Gerhard and Three Stripe Life, it was on my mind to recommend Colonel Mustard for this.

It was a mighty run to chase that pair home over 2m at Leopardstown last time, and everything points to Colonel Mustard being a genuine Grade 1 horse in a handicap here. Not only that, but has a quite lip-licking rating of 140, that puts him well in the pack away from top weight.

The run before that, Colonel Mustard was inconvenienced by the Supreme Trial at Ascot developing into a sprint, and still managed to get within 3 lengths of Douvan’s brother and Tuesday’s Supreme runner-up Jonbon. Again, Colonel Mustard had shown genuine Grade 1 form. I can’t see too many other horses in this race that are able to boast that, and also have the progressive profile of Colonel Mustard.

At 6/1 each-way with Paddy Power for 7 places, Colonel Mustard should be favourite on form, and only isn’t due to the presence of the Willie Mullins-trained State Man, who looks like a good’un, but will certainly lack for the experience of others.

Don’t forget, the stable’s ‘handicap good thing’ of the whole meeting Gaelic Warrior managed to get beat on Tuesday. State Man could easily be thrown in on ability, and prove it in time, but still get beaten here.

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has plenty of potential improvers, but I’m not overly keen on taking on Hillcrest, who looks a nailed-on Gold Cup horse of the future. It’s a pass for me.

And so to the Boodles Gold Cup at 3.30, and it looks an open race at first glance. But every time I consider this race, my mind tracks back to this day 12 months ago, and the impression that Minella Indo left on me. He won last year with plenty in hand, and while his season hasn’t quite gone to plan this time around, neither did it last season.

Plus, his run in the Irish Gold Cup a month or so ago was better than his equivalent prep run a year ago, and so at 9/2 each-way with Paddy Power, Minella Indo has to be the play in the biggest race of all.

A Plus Tard could be a year older and a year stronger, but he might just be a horse that finds 3m2½f over the undulations of Prestbury Park, as a test that will always stretch him to his absolute limit. Whereas his stablemate Minella Indo looks as if he has a couple of extra pockets of reserves to dip into at the end of such a test.

In passing over the Hunter Chase and the Mares Chase, in my mind I felt I would be passing over the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle at 5.30 also, but given last year’s runner-up Langer Dan has drifted to 5/1 with Paddy Power, he is the final each-way bet of this column’s Cheltenham Festival 2022 jamboree.

After we’ve roared home Lorcan Williams in a Galopin Des Champs-less renewal this year, we can breathe a huge sigh, have a pint or two, and retire to hibernation for a few days – tired, satisfied and reminiscing about the amazing feats laid out before us over these last four days.

Enjoy!

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