All 11 winners of the Albert Bartlett had run at least three times over hurdles before winning, which means we could be looking at a shock result, with market fancies Birchdale, Dickie Diver and Allaho lacking experience.
The County Hurdle has been a nightmare for punters with no favourite winning since 2004. The field can be narrowed down when taking into account that 12 of the last 13 winners were rated between 128-139 and 15 of the last 16 winners were novices or second-season horses.
Cheltenham day four tips and best bets by Marlborough
1.30 – Triumph Hurdle
There not appear to be much depth to this race and SIR EREC, who had smart Flat form before switching to hurdles, can maintain his unbeaten record. He is not particularly flashy but, as one would expect from his early career, highly professional. He certainly will not be beaten for stamina. Quel Destin, a course winner, has done everything asked of him and has only been beaten once in six outings but his form is solid rather than spectacular. Almost 50 per cent of Nicky Henderson’s 16 runners in the past 10 years have made the drame and three have won so Adjali and Pentland Hills have to be respected, particularly Pentland Hills, who made a bright start at Plumpton.
- Marlborough’s tip – Sir Erec
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Sir Erec
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Sir Erec
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Sir Erec
2.10 – County Handicap Hurdle
A field of 26 and barely one that can be confidently dismissed. I am trusting that the class of Willie Mullins’ MR ADJUDICATOR, a winner and twice runner-up in three Grade Ones last season can carry him through. Encouragingly, he has form in a big field, which has been a positive pointer in previous years. Ruby Walsh has chosen Whisky Sour from three Mullins runners but he has three pounds more than when third behind Mohaayed a year ago and not improved since. Western Ryder likes it around here but has nothing in hand from this mark. Sternrubin, High Expectations and Storm Rising were all on the shortlist.
- Marlborough’s tip – Mr Adjudicator
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Mr Adjudicator
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Capitaine
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – High Expectations
2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
This poses a severe test for novices and has proved a strong guide to future staying stars. CAP YORK has already won over three miles, landing a strongly-run handicap at Punchestown. This is clearly a step up in grade but for such an inexperienced horse – he had only run three times prior to that – to comfortably account for seasoned performers was commendable and he has boundless potential. Lisnagar Oscar improved markedly for a step up to this trip at Haydock and is another heading in the right direction. Rhinestone has displayed a smart level of form already but may have even more to offer at this distance.
- Marlborough’s tip – Cap York
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Birchdale
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Lisnagar Oscar
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Rhinestone
3.30 – Cheltenham Gold Cup
PRESENTING PERCY may have had an unconventional preparation – one run over hurdles since winning the RSA Chase easily here a year ago – but he is a far from typical horse. He has class, a good cruising speed and possesses both tactical speed and stamina. Clan Des Obeaux is hard to fault, and a young improver like him is always to be feared in this contest. Native River and Might Bite fought an epic finish to this race twelve months ago and native River has fared best of them since. Few will outbattle him to the line if he is there at the last. Two Welsh Grand National winners – Colin Tizzard’s Native River being one – has gone on to land this since 2012 and Tizzard’s Elegant Escape has a realistic chance of enhance that statistic.
- Marlborough’s tip – Presenting Percy
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Clan Des Obeaux (nap)
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Clan Des Obeaux
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Presenting Percy
4.10 – Foxhunter Steeple Chase
Pacha Du Polder has won this for the past two years and while repeat winners are a featrue of the event, a hat-trick seems out of his reach in what seems a stronger contest than last year. STAND UP AND FIGHT represents Enda Bolger and could not be in better hands. He recorded a decent time and won a Down Royal hunterchase with degree of comfort in December. Aged just seven we undoubtedly have yet to see the best of him. Ucello Conti has been revitalised by a switch to this grade and should be thereabouts. Hazel Hill could hardly have won more easily than he did at Warwick on his return and this prolific point-to-point winner should give his rider a good spin.
- Marlborough’s tip – Stand Up And Fight
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Pacha Du Polder
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Stand Up And Fight
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Ucello Conti
4.50 – Grand Annual Hurdle
BUN DORAN has plenty going for him. he likes Cheltenham and neither trip nor ground are an issue. He also runs well fresh so and absence of 90 days is more a positive than a negative. Diakali wears a visor for the first time and if that reignites him after two lacklustre efforts in Graded company then he has to have claims back into a handicap. Whatswrongwithyou is on the upgrade and has the right sort of profile to figure. Magic Saint is unexposed and while he needs to imporve, there is every reason to belive that is possible.
- Marlborough’s tip – Bun Doran
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Magic Saint
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Mr Medic
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Whatswrongwithyou
5.30 – Conditional Jockeys Hurdle
As hard a race as any this week. Jonjo O’Neill jnr is a promising conditional rider and may have the right partner in EARLY DOORS to make his Cheltenham festival breakthrough. This six-year-old has run with credit in Grade One events but now that sights have been lowered he may be able to get his head in front again. Pym appears to relish an uphill finish and remains unexposed. The progressive Doctor Dex has more todo today but if he can take another forward step is a place candidate.
- Marlborough’s tip – Early Doors
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Coolanly
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Coolanly
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Dallas Des Pictons