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Cheltenham betting tips: Friday's selections

It's the final day of our Cheltenham Festival betting tips and we're looking to bash the bookies with some value selections in seven competitive contests.

The Gold Cup takes centre stage, but there are also some cracking novice events, wide-open handicaps and the Foxhunter Chase to get stuck into.

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

SIR EREC was bred to be a Classic winner on the Flat, being by Camelot out of a Galileo mare, but sparkling in the National Hunt arena can prove a decent consolation prize.

He was considered good enough to take on Stradivarius in the British Champions Long Distance Cup on the level when handled by Aidan O'Brien and has taken well to jumping for the trainer's son Joseph.

The JP McManus-owned gelding made all the running to land a Grade One prize by six lengths at Leopardstown last month and there doesn't seem to be a chink in his armour at this point.

2.10 County Hurdle

CAPITAINE was visually impressive throughout last month's win at Taunton and a 6lb rise up the ratings may not stop him from running another big race here.

That victory came after a wind operation, which seems to have helped him rediscover the zest of his novice hurdle days, when securing a Grade Two prize at Ascot among three victories in seven spins.

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

Rebecca Curtis looks to have a really nice prospect on her hands in LISNAGAR OSCAR, who was a touch unlucky not to win at Cheltenham in mid-December after making a mistake at the last.

Since then, he has stayed on strongly to break his duck at Chepstow and made a big impression when demolishing a decent field in a trial for this contest at Haydock.

If able to cope with more testing conditions underfoot, the six-year-old should give the Racing For Fun syndicate an exciting day out.

3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup

NATIVE RIVER ran his rivals into the ground to take steeplechasing's blue riband event in convincing fashion 12 months ago and everything looks in his favour again this term.

Colin Tizzard's bold-jumping chestnut put in satisfactory efforts at Haydock and Kempton before just being outpaced on those flat tracks.

Soft going and a stiff uphill finish will now bring his stamina into play and he can become the first back-to-back winner since Best Mate dominated from 2002 to 2004.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: "This race has been the plan all season, it is the first time he is going to get his perfect conditions and he comes here in great nick.

"People keep telling me it is difficult for horses to win back-to-back Gold Cups, but there is nothing showing us at home to suggest this horse is any worse than last year."

4.10 Foxhunter Chase

Top Irish jockey Jamie Codd is having another fantastic Cheltenham Festival and will give UCELLO CONTI a big advantage in this amateur riders' Gold Cup.

Gordon Elliott's charge was running a good race in last year's Grand National until unseating his pilot four out and has shown his well-being with hunter chase victories at Thurles and Navan this term.

4.50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase

NOT ANOTHER MUDDLE looked a smart prospect when scoring at Plumpton and Leicester last season and has returned from a lengthy lay-off with two encouraging recent runs.

Gary Moore's eight-year-old was always going well when scoring at Sandown last month and still possesses the scope to cope with this step up in class.

5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

Gordon Elliott was delighted to land the race named after his former boss with Champagne Classic 12 months ago and has another strong contender in DALLAS DES PICTONS this term.

This heavy-ground winner in France was a good second to Wednesday's impressive Ballymore Novices' Hurdle scorer City Island at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and has since bagged a brace of victories himself.

Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in Horse Racing