Cheltenham Festival 2021 day four tips and best bets including the Gold Cup

Champ looks to have an outstanding chance of providing Nicky Henderson with his third WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in the feature of what has been a captivating Cheltenham Festival, despite going ahead behind closed doors.

Henderson suffered a blow with the late defection of Altior from the Queen Mother Champion Chase but he has a stunning prospect in Shishkin and Champ, who was named after Tony McCoy, ticks plenty of boxes ahead of the big one (3.05).

Last year’s RSA Chase winner had his jumping frailties as a novice, falling at Cheltenham previously, but he jumped and travelled remarkably well when second to Sceau Royal in the Game Spirit at Newbury. Sceau Royal could easily have won Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase with more luck in running.

The son of King’s Theatre probably has the dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo to beat. He had his traditional warm-up victory for this at Tramore and he comes alive at Cheltenham, edging Champ’s stablemate Santini last year. This could be his sternest test yet, given how well Champ jumped on his return, his first run after a wind operation.

Alan King won the JCB Triumph Hurdle (1.20) twice earlier this century and has one of the bets of the week in Tritonic. The son of Sea The Moon was a really classy sort on the Flat but he could be better again hurdling. Betfair goes 2-1, though punters may get a bigger price on the show, considering the market strength of Zanahiyr.

Zanahiyr did not have the same level of form hurdling as the selection, but he has developed into a really versatile jumper, and stablemate Denise Foster is having a week to remember.

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Mullins has won four of the last ten renewals of the County Hurdle (1.55), targetting it with the five-year-old Saint Roi last season, and Ganapthi makes plenty of appeal in the colours of Al Boum Photo. He has only had three hurdle starts, winning his maiden before finishing second at Punchestown and not quite seeing out a staying trip at Leopardstown.

The Albert Bartlett (2.30) has seen horses win at big prices in recent years. Very Wood (33-1), Kilbricken Storm (33-1) and Minella Indo (50-1) all showed the importance of stamina in this contest and Vanillier could out-run his odds for Gavin Cromwell.

He was a sick horse when never travelling at Leopardstown and had Sattler back in third when winning his maiden at Naas. Paddy Power goes 20-1 and offers five each-way places on the race.

The absence of amateur riders renders the StJames’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase (3.40) something of a novel contest this year. Billaway, second in the race last year, has looked better than ever this season. He finds plenty for pressure and should be very hard to beat for Willie Mullins.

Today marks the first renewal of the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (4.15), with Mullins attempting to enhance his exceptional record in mares-only races at the Festival. He holds the key here in the shape of Colreevy, who is unbeaten over fences, and hot favourite Elimay, who has taken on the boys and performed with great credit already this season. She jumps and travels like a smart horse and has a 5lb edge over her stablemate on ratings.

Dan Skelton can strike for the home team in the final race of the four days, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (4.50). Langer Dan looked on great terms with himself at Sandown on Saturday and, only five years of age, can defy a 5lb hike under Lorcan Williams. Paddy Power is laying five places for each-way players and he ran a blinder at the Cotswolds in the Fred Winter 12 months ago.

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