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# Golden Ticket
4 things to look out for on Day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival
It’s the climax of the week’s racing at Prestbury Park.

FRIDAY MORNING BREAKS with just seven of the 28 dreams left to be realised at The Cheltenham Festival 2019.

Thursday will be hard to top but the stage looks set for the showpiece event to live up to its name.

Flat Rat Banker

Mark Walsh on Sir Erec wins the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle Oisin Keniry / INPHO Mark Walsh on Sir Erec after winning the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

One of the key features of the Irish masses as they head to the festival is “The Banker”. What horse will make or break the week. In the past it has been early in the week, with the likes of Douvan, Vautour, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly or Annie Power on the Tuesday.

That got us off to a flying start. While Tiger Roll has already done his bit, Sir Erec will carry many green hopes, dreams, Euros and Sterling in the opener on Friday.

The Triumph hurdle is generally denigrated on the preview circuit, for “flat rats and the French” as the jumping purists are known to say. Today, punters won’t care for Sir Erec’s pedigree or whether he goes back to the flat. He has carried all before him in Ireland; the English challenge has been weakened through absentees. Punters have piled into Joseph O’Brien’s horse; they just want him to win.

Pure Gold

Sometimes sport doesn’t live up to the hype. Occasionally pre-bought tickets for finals don’t have the line-up the spectators hoped for months beforehand. Friday’s Gold Cup looks set to be a modern classic. Every horse that should be there will be there. Last year’s first three home are back, all the winners of the main trials, last year’s star novice Presenting Percy, they all line up.

Presenting Percy’s has had an unorthodox preparation in that the last time he raced over fences was a year ago. Willie Mullins has had seven second place finishers in the race, this year he throws four darts to try get his first win in the race. Paul Nicholls team are back in the big time, he’s had four Gold Cup winners already, Clan des Obeaux could make it five.

Might Bite went off Favourite last year, can he come back? Colin Tizzard has comeback kid Thistlecrack, emerging star Elegant Escape alongside reigning champ Native River. The Gold Cup is the pinnacle of the Cheltenham Festival, sometimes it has not delivered. On Friday all the relevant players are lining up. Don’t miss it at half pat three.

The Last Noel

Noel Fehily onboard Eglantine Du Seuil celebrates winning Dan Sheridan / INPHO Noel Fehily onboard Eglantine Du Seuil celebrates winning this week. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There are more fashionable jockey bookings than Noel Fehily, but he is one of the best in the weigh-room. He rides in an unfashionable way, long in leg and rein, strong but with a godly pair of hands. Fehily announced his imminent retirement after guiding the Willie Mullins trained Eglantine du Seuil to victory in the Mares’ Novice hurdle on Thursday.

That was his eighth and possibly final festival winner. Fehily won two Champion Hurdles and a Champion Chase amongst those victories. The British-based Corkman has two rides on Friday, they look unlikely to be winners. He will walk away from the game intact, without much fanfare, probably the way he wants it. Fehily is a gifted horseman, enjoy his last festival dance on Friday.

Hopes for the Future

The Martin Pipe Conditional riders handicap hurdle now closes the festival. The race gives an opportunity to inexperienced jockeys in a festival race. The purpose of the race is to highlight the talents of the riders, but the real talents that have emerged are equine.

Invariably they turn out to be staying chasers rather than hurdlers but are always worth noting. Sir des Champs, Killultagh Vic and Don Poli are the most obvious good ones.
The race is named after master trainer Martin Pipe and his former assistant Gordon Elliot has won the last couple of runnings.

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That trend may continue on Friday with Dallas des Pictons, who looks a potential future chasing star.

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey on The42 Rugby Weekly as Ireland bid to spoil Wales’ Grand Slam party in Cardiff, and the U20s target their own piece of history.

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