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Cheltenham Festival Guide: 2015 race schedule, betting tips, results

By Ali Gordon

Everything you need to know ahead of the Gold Cup.

Friday, March 13: Gold Cup

13.30 The JCB Triumph Hurdle, Channel 4, 2m abt 1f Hurdle

14.05 The Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle Race, Channel 4, 2m abt 1f Hurdle

14.40 The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race, Channel 4, abt 3m Hurdle

15.20 The Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase, Channel 4, 3m abt 2½ f Chase

16.00 The St James’s Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup, Channel 4, 3m abt 2½ f Chase

16.40 The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race 2m abt 4½ f Hurdle

17.15 The A P McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase (for the Johnny Henderson Challenge Cup) 2m abt ½ f Chase

 

Mark Walsh Exclusive

There were terrific scenes in the parade ring yesterday when Uxizandre claimed the Ryanair but I expect more tears today and more visits to the winner's enclosure for AP McCoy.

To reflect on yesterday's offering, Vautour really displayed the kind of class we haven't seen since he won the Supreme last year.

I was confident he would win but the manner of the victory was astounding. His jumping was a joy to behold.

There were a couple of hard luck stories in the Ryanair and World Hurdle but the best horses won  on both.

Today is the day we've been waiting for and I may be voting with my heart but I think Carlingford Lough can win the Gold Cup this afternoon.

He was impressive in the Hennessy at Leopardstown and if there isn't much rain, he'll be bang there at the business end of affairs.

Holywell loves it at Cheltenham and he's another who has graduated from the handicap ranks and can challenge for honours.

If the Cotswolds got the rain we did, the likes of the novice Coneygree and Many Clouds come right into the reckoning.

Coneygree sidestepped the RSA Chase and missed Don Poli, he could be a future star but he'll have to prove it.

Many Clouds proved in beating Dynaste the last day and his victory in the Hennessy that he has the class to do it but he needs the juice in the ground.

Paul Nicholls seems to have a fierce hold of the juvenile ranks and had the first, second and fourth home in the Fred Winter.

Peace And Co is a course and distance winner and his form is the best on offer by far.

The Irish juveniles look a good bit below their English counterparts and I expect the likes of Hargam and Top Notch to chase him home.

The Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle is just as hard to predict as ever but I like Eddie Harty's horse Sort It Out.

I rode him to victory on New Year's Eve at Punchestown and he really impressed me that day and when AP won on him in Leopardstown.

He has a nice weight and even though AP went for Princely Conn, I like his chances.

Ireland, Willie Mullins in particular, have dominated the novice hurdles and chases and Black Hercules can make it a clean sweep tomorrow.

Some rain would help but he has done everything right on both of his starts at Cork.

His form isn't as impressive as others but his potential for improvement far exceeds his opponents.

Martello Tower was a horse I fancied earlier this week but he finished behind Outlander and he didn't do much for the form in the Neptune.

Salsify can win back his crown in the Foxhunter's. On The Fringe finished ahead of him at Leopardstown in February but I think Colman Sweeney's mount needed the run badly and will improve a lot.

McKinley has been given a rating of 136 by the British handicapper which is four pounds below his Irish mark.

The Willie Mullins horse is a dual Grade One winner and looks thrown in here.

His stablemate Roi De Franc is a leading fancy but it's his first time in a handicap and he may lack a little experience.

Ned Buntline has been aimed at this race for a year and I think he can give AP the fairytale send off he deserves.

He was just touched off by Savello in this race last year but can go one better this time around.

Blood Cotil is a very interesting runner for Willie and Ruby and shouldn't be discounted.

 

Mark Walsh's Selections

 

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Selection: Peace And Co           Each-way: Hargam

 

2.05 Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle

Selection: Sort It Out                 Each-way: Quick Jack

 

2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

 

Selection: Black Hercules     Each-way: Blaklion

 

3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

 

Selection: Carlingford Lough          Each-way: Holywell

 

4.00 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase

 

Selection: Salsify         Each-way: On The Fringe

 

4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

 

Selection: McKinley         Each-way: Roi Des Franc

 

5.15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual

 

Selection: Ned Buntline.         Each-way: Blood Cotil

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