Cheltenham 2019: Lucky Luke's Day 4 Tips



They say that "time flies when you're having fun" and that seems to have been the case this week at Cheltenham. 

The Festival has a way of throwing up storylines and a few more have been written this year thanks to Frodon and Paisley Park. 

Friday, though, is the day that really matters in jumps racing as the pinnacle of the sport - the Gold Cup - goes up for grabs at 3:30pm. 

As always, our resident racing fan 'Lucky Luke' is in the saddle to give you his thoughts on Friday's brilliant Gold Cup card.

1:30pm – Triumph Hurdle

Sir Erec is the Irish banker of the week and there are people who know a lot more about racing than I do that have been flagging this as a banker for some time.

I don't disagree with them, and as long as he has got over a stone bruise that he picked up last week, then he is the one to follow.

As an each-way choice, I'm going to side with Pentland Hills.

I actually have shares in horses with the Owners Group and they have Pentland Hills going in the Triumph Hurdle for the group’s first-ever Festival runner. The likes of Alcala, Champagne Express and more recently Getaway Trump have shown promise, but as of yet, none have been good enough to make it to the big meeting.

Pentland Hills will fly the flag in that respect, and he’d have an each-way chance in what is always a great race for catching some potential stars of the future, just think Tiger Roll in 2014.

Trained by Nicky Henderson, Pentland Hills showed plenty of class on his only start for the yard when winning by 14 lengths at Plumpton. This will obviously be a lot tougher, but he certainly caught the eye that day and would be worth a market check.

2:10pm – County Handicap Hurdle

Trainer Willie Mullins has an excellent record in this race and I'm backing him to extend that with Mr Adjudicator.

Both Mullins and Paul Nicholls have four wins each in the race, but Mullins has dominated the recent era with Thousand Stars (2010), Final Approach (2011), Wicklow Brave (2015) and Arctic Fire (2017).

As for Mr Adjudicator, he was 2nd in the Triumph Hurdle last year and finished 2nd to Espoir D'Allen, the Champion Hurdle winner, at Naas.

I imagine the market will dictate his chances, but at the least, he's a very interesting each-way bet.

2:50pm – Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and that is exactly the case with Derrinross.

He loves a bit of cut in the ground and that makes conditions close to ideal for him in the Albert Bartlett.

He's had problems in the past, but he seems to be sound now and looks to be in with a very good chance considering he is 2 from 2 over 3 miles this season.

As an 8yo and a second season novice, he'll certainly have the experience that is normally needed to win this.

3:30pm – Gold Cup

Presenting Percy has been aimed at this since winning the RSA Chase last season, but he could be found wanting. I thought his seasonal debut was only workmanlike and didn’t really do enough for me to back him at his current price.

Native River has run right up to form all season with strong efforts in the Betfair Chase and the King George Chase at Kempton, both on tracks that don’t suit his style and I’d say he was better value, if you do want to back one of the market leaders.

He wants soft ground, which is pretty much guaranteed this week and if anybody can slog it out over this distance when the mud is flying, it’s very much Native River. He’d pretty much ran Might Bite into the ground in similar conditions when winning the Gold Cup last year and things seem to be panning out for the same thing to happen again.

Nobody has won back to back Gold Cup’s since Best Mate in the early 2000’s, but Native River looks to have the class to bring that barren run to an end.

4:10pm – Foxhunters

It seems like an obvious choice to go with Pacha Du Polder for the Foxhunters, which is why I can’t quite understand why he’s such a big price.

He’s taken the last two renewals of this race and should arguably have had a hat-trick if it hadn’t had been for Olympian Victoria Pendleton being in the saddle. He’s come under the radar in each of those wins and it seems to be a similar case this time around.

Yes, he didn’t perform to his best at Haydock last time, but he put on a similar display in his last run before winning the Foxhunters last year. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

His trainer Paul Nicholls has made no secret of the fact that he will go for this again and with jockey Harriet Tucker now back in good health after an injury, you get the feeling they’ll be determined to make this a memorable third Foxhunters success.

4:50pm – Grand Annual

Paul Nicholls has trained two of the last three renewals of the Grand Annual and looks as though he's got another leading candidate on his hands in Magic Saint.

He's a horse that is well liked at Ditcheat and as a 5yo, is still open to plenty of improvement. However, he won convincingly at Wincanton last time and has some nice form in his two other runs for Paul Nicholls.

He'll certainly be one that gets better with age, but there's no saying he can't go and collect this big prize so early in his National Hunt career.

5:30pm – Martin Pipe

It's hard to see past Dallas Des Pictons in the final race of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

Gordon Elliot won this race last year with Champagne Classic and could find himself back in the winner's enclosure with a horse that looks to be improving.

He is a 6yo that previously won on heavy in France and has now won his last two for Elliot, including on handicap debut at Leopardstown last time.


1:30 – Pentland Hills (EW)

2:10 – Mr Adjudicator

2:50 – Derrinross

3:30 – Native River

4:10 – Pacha Du Polder (EW)

4:50 – Magic Saint

5:30 – Dallas Des Pictons