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Cheltenham betting tips: Friday's selections

The Gold Cup headlines day four of our Cheltenham Festival betting tips, as the curtain comes down on another year of the greatest show on turf.

With two Grade 1 novice hurdles, the Foxhunter Chase and three competitive handicaps on the supporting card, punters have plenty to get stuck into.

Here's our Cheltenham 2018 tips for Friday's action at Prestbury Park:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

Apple's Shakira ticks all the right boxes after recording a hat-trick of course wins, all on a soft surface.

Barry Geraghty had to shake her up between the final two flights here in January, but this full-sister to Apple's Jade provided a willing response to power up the hill and prevail by eight lengths.

"Barry has been at pains to ensure that she has learned how to race," commented Nicky Henderson. "She came right away up the hill - the further she went, the better she was."

Apple's Shakira @ 8/5

2.10 County Hurdle

Injury problems have prevented Moon Racer from fulfilling his true potential but the 2015 Champion Bumper hero still warrants respect down in handicap company.

That was one of three Cheltenham wins for the enigmatic nine-year-old, who was only 10/1 for last season's Champion Hurdle before being pulled up.

Trainer David Pipe said in an exclusive interview with BetStars: "He's showing at home that he still has an enthusiasm for racing.

"He may not quite have the pace he used to, but he's still capable of running a big race at the Festival."

Moon Racer @ 18/1

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

Henderson has a strong hand in the race he won with Bob's Worth back in 2011 and we reckon Chef Des Obeaux is the pick of his four-strong team.

The six-year-old was beaten by stablemate Santini at Newbury on his seasonal debut, but subsequent strikes at Uttoxeter, Kempton and Haydock suggest he has improved since.

Conditions were testing when he hacked up by 15 lengths last month and the trainer declared: "This is totally Chef Des Obeaux's ground."

Chef Des Obeaux @ 5/1

3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Stamina will be of the essence in this year's Gold Cup and that should play to the strengths of Native River.

A staying-on second in the 4m National Hunt Chase two years ago, Colin Tizzard's charge also galloped on strongly when successful in last season's Welsh Grand National.

He has been given an easier preparation than when a game third in this race 12 months ago and all went according to plan in his Newbury warm-up win.

Native River @ 9/2

4.10 Foxhunter Chase

Burning Ambition is highly regarded on the Irish point-to-point scene and has also caught the eye on two outings under rules this season.

After storming home by 13 lengths on heavy ground at Limerick, the selection then lost nothing in defeat when second to Gilgamboa at Punchestown.

Pierce Power has taken the tough decision to replace regular pilot Rob James with leading amateur rider Jamie Codd and said: "I just thought going to Cheltenham that it would be good to have someone with experience of the track."

Burning Ambition @ 3/1

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

Gordon Elliott loves to target the race named after his mentor and Flawless Escape could follow up last year's success by stablemate Champagne Classic.

This five-year-old was a bumper winner on heavy ground at Roscommon in September and scored over timber at Leopardstown just after Christmas.

He returned to that track to finish a fine third of 16 in a competitive handicap last month and still has scope for more improvement.

Flawless Escape @ 15/2

5:30 Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Dresden was far from disgraced when seventh of 24 in this contest a couple of years ago and could again go well at a big price.

Although now in the veteran stage as a 10-year-old, he has looked as good as ever when scoring at Catterick and Wetherby in 2018.

Both of those wins came when there was plenty of cut underfoot and his resurgence can continue with a bold showing here.

Dresden @ 40/1

Cheltenham Faller Insurance - Bet on any jumps race across the UK or Ireland, including races at the Cheltenham Festival 2018, and if your horse falls, is brought down or unseats the rider, we'll refund your stake, including the win part of each way bets, as a Free Bet up to $/£/€25.

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Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in Horse Racing