Coral Cup Tips - 2:50pm Cheltenham

2019 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Preview

The first handicap on day two of the Festival is the Coral Cup, a handicap hurdle run over 2m5f. Willie Mullins had five runners in the line-up last year and won it with 20/1 shot Bleu Berry. A big priced winner is not uncommon in the Coral Cup with 9 out of the last 10 winners starting at 12/1 or higher.

The Irish raiders are on a roll after winning the last three renewals and special attention should be paid to Gordon Elliott who has had two winners and two places since 2011.

Elliott’s first contender is Cracking Smart who has a lofty mark of 150, at first glance it appears to be asking a lot of a horse to win a handicap off this figure but past results will tell you that two 150+ rated horses were in the first four last year and have performed well previously.

Cracking Smart has won twice from eight starts over hurdles, both as a novice. He was off the track for nearly a year after finishing second to Next Destination in a Grade 1 and looked in need of the run behind Apple’s Jade over 3 miles at the Christmas meeting.

Last time out he improved markedly to chase home Tiger Roll and Off You Go in a Grade 2 and that will put him spot on for his handicap debut.

Stablemate Farclas has been a big disappointment this season, he was expected to contest at the very highest level after taking the Triumph Hurdle here last year but things just haven’t clicked for the 5yo. He has been tried with all sorts of headgear and even a pair of blinkers failed to sharpen him up last time out.

A step up in trip could be the answer and on his day would be very dangerous, a return to the Festival could just be the spark he needs so shouldn’t be written off just yet.

Elliott’s old rival Willie Mullins looks to have a strong hand and all eyes will be on the final declarations and to see if ante-post favourite Uradel gets into the line up.

The 8yo has a mark of 137 which would have got in last year, but only just. He has the option of running in the Conditional Jockey’s race but this is his preferred target.

A decent flat horse he finished second in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket back in October and then on his only outing over hurdles this season was a nearest at the finish 5th of 19 in the Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown under Ruby Walsh. That was a most eye catching run and has to go close off a low weight here.

Mullins also saddles Scarpeta who was a good fourth behind Samcro twelve months ago in the Ballymore Hurdle. He came out this season and won at the first time of asking over three miles at Clonmel in December. Last time out he dropped back to 2m4f and wasn’t beaten far behind stable mate Bachasson.

This will be his first effort in a handicap and just has that touch of class about him which could see him go very well on a course he suits.

Mullins also has last years winner Bleu Berry in the line up. He has only been out once this season and was well beaten behind Presenting Percy at Gowran Park in January. That will have done him the world of good but will need to bounce back to his best to figure here.

The home side look up against it and maybe Paul Nicholls who has a pretty good record in the race (winner in 2015, second in 2018) can provide the main danger to the Irish runners.

He saddles Brio Conti who comes here on the back of a win at Ascot last month. He seems to go on any ground and gets this trip pretty well and with the tard in such good form he should be on the shortlist.

Nigel Twiston-Davies runs Ballyandy who was third to Brio Conti in that Ascot race. He had earlier won at Uttoxeter off top weight and that was the first sign for a while that the former Betfair Hurdle winner was back on track.

His mark of 148 looks fair enough and he could go well here on a track where he finished 4th in the Supreme.

Highest Sun comes into the reckoning after opening his account over hurdles last time out at Chepstow. He had been running too freely in his races but has improved with every run this season. Colin Tizzard rates him a lot and could be well handicapped at present and a lively outsider.

Nicky Henderson saddles three runners and all of them have simialr chances. Apples Shakira would be interesting if she came back to form, we shouldnt forget she was favourite for the Triumph Hurdle last year. Burbank went novice chasing last time and reverts back to hurdles on his second run after a wind op, he has something to prove while Nico de Boinville gets the leg up on William Henry. He was disappointing last time but has also had a wind op recently.



Punters Lounge Tip: Cracking Smart EW 16/1 at Paddy Power - Click Here To Bet

Coral Cup Trends
Coral Cup Previous Winners
YearWinnerAge Weight JockeyTrainerSP
2019William Henry911-10Nico de BoinvilleNicky Henderson28/1
2018Bleu Berry711-02Mark WalshWillie Mullins20/1
2017Supasundae711-04Robbie PowerJessica Harrington16/1
2016Diamond King811-03Davy RussellGordon Elliott12/1
2015Aux Ptits Soins510-07Sam Twiston-DaviesPaul Nicholls9/1
2014Whisper611-06Nico de BoinvilleNicky Henderson14/1
2013Medinas611-10Wayne HutchinsonAlan King33/1
2012Son Of Flicka810-06Jason MaguireDonald McCain16/1
2011Carlito Brigante510-12Davy RussellGordon Elliott16/1
2010Spirit River511-02Barry GeraghtyNicky Henderson14/1
2009Ninetieth Minute610-03Paddy FloodTom Taaffe14/1

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