Coral Cup Tips - 2:30pm Cheltenham

Run over an extended two-and-a-half miles on the old course, this even usually turns into a cavalry charge on the run to the finish line. There are ten hurdles to be jumped and there will likely be a maximum field of twenty-six runners going to post. Dame De Compagnie was the first favourite to win this race since Xenophon in 2003 so that shows just how hard it is to confidently predict the winner. French bred horses are becoming more popular for this race due to them being more forward in the earlier part of their careers.

Ten out of the last twelve winners have been priced at 12/1 or bigger and three quarters of the last dozen had also run at Cheltenham previously. In recent years, horses racing off a mark in the 150’s have been getting placed more and more, however to win you generally need a mark of at least 140. There has never been a successful defence of the prize by any previous winner. In recent years Nicky Henderson has saddled three of the last seven winners and no horse older than nine has won this race since Chance Coffey in 1995.

Grand Roi is the ante-post favourite for the race having been placed in a Grade Three race at Naas behind Bachasson. He is a second season hurdler and with Gordon Elliott winning this twice before, he is likely to have been well prepared for the task in hand. All of his best for has come with plenty of give in the ground and could still be open to any amount of improvement. He was a solid fourth to Audacity on New Years’ Day back in 2020, so he has vital course experience. His chances are hard to dismiss, but this grey has stamina questions to answer.

Koshari has only been raised two pounds by the British handicapper and his trainer Willie Mullins has won this race and gone close on another occasion in recent years. He was last seen at Leopardstown earlier in the month, but Paul Townend lost his stirrups during the race giving them absolutely no chance. He worked a miracle to get Koshari to stay on into sixth place, but ultimately he had not too hard a race as a result. With a bit of better luck, this nine-year-old could be just the type to go well.

Monte Cristo is a completely unexposed sort and could be anything. He has previous course form from January 2020 where he was fourth to Galahad Quest in the Grade Two Triumph Hurdle trial. His seasonal return back in October was a little lacklustre when finishing eighth to Jacamar at Aintree. He improved on that next time though with stepped up to this trip for the first time and thumped Ecco by seven lengths. The runner-up has come out to frank the form subsequently so he certainly one to keep on the right side of.

Birchdale was last seen running in a “Jumpers Bumper” at Kempton earlier in February where he was beaten a couple of lengths by Young Lieutenant. Despite a win at Cheltenham earlier in his career, the seven-year-old has looked a shadow of his former self in recent outings and he is hard to fancy. Although JP McManus owned runners have won on multiple occasions it is difficult to make a case for him and his trainer has better chances.

Nicky Henderson has a fantastic record in this race and the lightly raced French bred Monte Cristo looks to be improving just at the right time and can add to that. Running in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede the five-year-old is capable of following in the footsteps of Dame De Compagnie and Aux Ptits Soins and Carlito Brigante who all won this at the same age throughout the last decade.

Punters Lounge Tip: Monte Cristo E/W @ 16/1 at Betfred - Click Here To Bet

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