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Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie: #1 Apple’s Shakira (Cheltenham, 1.30pm)
The last day of the Cheltenham Festival is an absolute cracker.
We start our Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie in the Triumph Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson’s Apple’s Shakira looks an absolute beast.
This well-related four-year-old has never tasted defeat in four runs in her career so far.
Her French form looked impressive and she confirmed it by hosing up on her UK debut.
The fact she beat a previous winner that day made the form look strong and she confirmed it with another win next time out.
Her latest effort, in January, was another easy victory.
All of her UK runs have been here at Cheltenham, which is a bonus, and she gets a handy mares’ weight allowance here.
Conditions look ideal and this one feels like a banker.
Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie: #2 Santini (Cheltenham, 2.50pm)
Henderson also saddles the second leg of our Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie.
Santini is a tough-as-teak six-year-old son of Milan who looks just the sort for this race.
The Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle is a gruelling test, but this one has stamina in spades.
A former point-to-point winner over three miles, Santini has won both starts under rules.
The first at Newbury in December was impressive.
But the latest run, here at Cheltenham in a Grade 2 in January, was even better.
Santini was absolutely motoring at the end of that two mile four furlong contest on awful ground.
That indicates the step back up to three miles today is just what he needs.
Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie: #3 Native River (Cheltenham, 3.30pm)
We finish our Friday, March 16: Cheltenham Festival Daily Trixie with the Gold Cup.
This race is the pinnacle of the jumps racing calendar and we reckon we’ve found the winner.
Colin Tizzard’s Native River was third in last year’s Gold Cup, but they came at the end of a gruelling season.
He won the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury and the Welsh National last season, so can be forgiven for being worn out by Gold Cup time.
However, this season has seen him campaigned much more lightly.
He has run just the once, at Newbury last month, where he easily won the Grade 2 Denman Chase.
That would have put him right for this test and we can expect a much different performance this time around.
Expect him to lead and set a fierce pace for his rivals to try to match – we reckon they won’t be able to.
After a quiet start to the season, Tizard has started to hit some form of late and we fancy he’s got the Gold Cup winner here.
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