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Tuesday 10 March 2015

Cheltenham Festival - Coral Cup Preview

The Coral Cup, run over 2 miles 5 furlongs on the Old Course at Cheltenham, has produced no winning favourite in the last 10 years and winners at 33/1 (twice), 16/1 (twice) and 14/1 (three times), so it’s fair to say it’s one of favourite races of the year. As usual, a maximum field of 26 runners will face the starter this year and, with the bookmakers betting 16/1 bar the front pair in the ante post market, the chances of an upset must be quite high. Should you have a more general, less race specific interest in Cheltenham, here's a guide to the Festival.

Dell’ Arca (33/1) is 3lb higher in the weights than when fifth, beaten 3¾ lengths, in this race last year and is on a losing run of ten. Frustrating though he has become, connections reach for first-time blinkers which, in combination with faster underfoot conditions than he’s encountered for a while, could make all the difference.

Shammick Boy (40/1) is on a career-high handicap mark of 140, but has been in cracking form so far this winter, completing a hat-trick on soft and heavy going. However, Jack Doyle’s 10-year-old has winning form on good to soft and good going earlier in his career and a collateral form line involving Sidbury Hill suggests that he is much the same horse as As De Mee, who won the European Breeders’ Fund William Hill “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown on Saturday.

The lightly-raced 7-year-old Hammersly Lake (25/1) is Barry Geraghty’s choice from six runners saddled by Nicky Henderson and the hint may be worth taking. The Kapgarde gelding was tailed off in the Lanzarote at Kempton in January, on his first attempt beyond 2 miles 3 furlongs, but his previous form was encouraging and it’s too soon to be writing him off.

The Coral Cup is, as usual, insanely competitive, but our three against the field this week are, in no particular order, Dell’ Arca (33/1 with Ladbrokes), Shammick Boy (40/1 with Coral) and Hammersly Lake (25/1 generally available). Good luck!