Coral Cup Tips - 2:50pm Cheltenham

2020 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Preview

The Coral Cup has the reputation of being one of the trickiest races to solve during the whole four days of the Festival. Nine of the last ten winners have started at 12/1 or bigger and winners come from either side of the Irish Sea, the English horses are 6-4 up in that particular battle in the last decade.

Past winners have come from anywhere in the handicap and last year William Henry got up close home carrying 11st 10lbs, back in 2007 the winner carried 9st 12lbs. It’s a case of finding something with decent current form and stays the trip well.

One of the leading fancies is the Dan Skelton trained Protektorat, the 5yo was second in a Listed handicap back in December and has since been taking on some top novices. Last time out he was third to Harry Senior in a Grade 2 race over this sort of trip and leaves him on a decent mark of 144. The Skelton’s have a good record in the handicaps around here and has to be on the shortlist.

Nicky Henderson has won this race three times since 2010 and as we said earlier William Henry landed the prize 12 months ago. This time the yard has Dame De Compagnie, she won a Listed race here on the new course in 2018 and looked to be a mare for the future, unfortunate she went missing for 18 months due to an injury.

She was 5th to Harambe on her comeback run in November and then improved to win next time out by 4 ½ lengths off a mark of 132. She has been raised 8lbs for that and looks as if she is back to her best and that would give here every chance here.

Birchdale is in the same ownership and he needs to get his career back on track. He was fancied for the Albert Bartlett race last year but was eventually pulled up after travelling well until two out. He was sent chasing this season but was well beaten by stable mate Angels Breath at Ascot.

He now reverts to hurdles and to a more suitable trip and if he’s in the same form as when coming here last year then he could go well now he’s in a handicap.

The Irish challenge looks particularly strong this season, Willie Mullins is always worth noting in handicaps despite his reputation for Grade 1 horses, he took this in 2018 with Bleu Berry and has a similar chance with Bachasson.

He’s a 9yo now but that didn’t stop last year’s winner, people with long memories with remember he fell in Native River’s Gold Cup in 2018 and has been back over hurdles in three starts since.

He came back after nearly a year off at Navan last month and ran a cracker to be third behind Cracking Smart over this trip. He was traveling well to two out that day and maybe just needed the run. He’s rated a lot higher over fences so could be a well handicapped runner here.

Gordon Elliott won this race with Diamond King and Carlito Brigante and is usually well represented. In fact Cracking Smart is one of his main hopes, owned by the Gigginstown Stud. He wasnt pulling up any trees this season but then last time out he baounced back to form at Navan. He beat Penhill by 4 lengths and that effort booked his ticket here.

Black Tears is another who has struck form at the right time, she came back to winning ways at Leopardstown at the Dublin Festival, that was her first win in eight races and she followed that up with a fine effort behind Elfile next time out. She has been put in here instead of the Mares race and is not without a chance.

Trainer Charles Byrnes loves a tilt at the big boys when he has a good horse and he saddles Thosedaysaregone. He finished 6th at Punchestown on his handicap debut in December but then went to Leopardstown last month and landed the 22-runner Ladbroke Hurdle at the Dublin Festival. That was over two miles but he stays ok and has a big chance here.

Eddie Harty has a progressive hurdler in Kilfenora who has won twice already this season. Owned by JP McManus he will need to defy a big weight to land this prize but its been done before so deserves to take his chance.

He started the season on a mark of just 134 but victories at Naas and Navan either side of Christmas has catapulted him into the big time. Last time out he ran in Graded company for the first time and was a decent 4th behind Cracking Smart. He was well backed that day so obviously connections thought he was up to it. Back in a handicap here he should be thereabouts.

Alfa Mix is worth mentioning for Gavin Cromwell, he's yet another McManus runner in the line up. He won at Navan in December off a mark of just 127 and now lines up here on 142 so does need to find more. With only six starts under her belt she could well improve further.

Punters Lounge Tip: Bachasson EW 14/1 at Paddy Power - Click Here To Bet
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