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Cheltenham Festival Day Three Full Preview


A fantastic day for the Irish on Wednesday at Cheltenham as attention now turns to the Thursday card and it’s six races. We’ll be taking a look at each of them here and attempting to gauge how things might shape up.

Jewson Novices’ Chase

Wishfull Thinking headlines an eleven-strong field for this 2m4f novice chase. He’s been in solid form this year and justifies his favourites status while still delivering a somewhat respectable price at around 11/4. If he holds there it’s not a bad wager at the price on the win-only as his last outing was a course and distance score over the talented Calgary Bay. That victory built on a previous second-place effort to Reve De Sivola at Cheltenham back in December. The Walsh/Nicholls pairing gets up on 5/1 Robinson Collonges and he’ll need to improve significantly on his last effort at Cheltenham. The play appears to be bottom-weight Blazing Tempo, a seven year-old by Accordion, who lines up for Willy Mullins. He’s a multiple Grade 3 winner and could get the Irish off to another great start at a hefty 16/1.

Pertemps Final

Bottom-weight Chartreux lines up as the co-favourite for David Pipe’s yard after a single-race campaign where he finished third in his only effort. A hefty field is set to contest this 3m hurdle and those looking for a form horse will do well to back 10/1 Barafundle. He hasn’t raced since November but there’s an excellent reference on there with a credible second place finish to Grands Crus (who takes on Big Buck’s later in the card). He didn’t run so well in his previous effort at Cheltenham but it could be a different story today if he emerges well off the freshening. Michael Flips is known to surprise from time to time and his 25/1 price will attract some. Take a gander at 25/1 Tarablaze if you’re looking for an each-way selection who could be set to progress.

Ryanair Chase

Poquelin comes into this one as the distinct favourite having been bet down as low as 9/4. The Paul Nicholls contender should get Ruby again for this one and the two could build on a very good record at Cheltenham. You’d say that he’s a justifiable favourite but the fact that favourites haven’t been winning particularly often might see his price rise a bit. He’s a strong play if he gets up to 11/4 or even 5/2. There’s a fair amount of talent here and some folks will likely try and beat him. Despite a mixed record, Kalahari King trades at 7/2 while Tartak looks a very interesting selection at 14/1. He’s got a Grade 3 score at Cheltenham this year and wasn’t really firing on all cylinders in his last Grade 1 effort – a fifth place in the Betfair Chase.

World Hurdle

The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is easily the day’s biggest feature and the crème-de-la-crème of the hurdling circuit are set to line up in this contest. Big Buck’s is a living-legend and will likely be bet down to even money or odds-on. The bookies are certainly hoping against another trademark run from him and it looks like the big threat is 3/1 Grands Crus- who is looking for his fourth score on the bounce this season. The David Pipe-trained gelding will be a real threat, but you wonder whether those two pushing so hard might open it up for somebody else? Take a look at Celestial Halo, who deserves a lot more respect than he’s getting at 33/1. Mourad could be the spoiler at 10/1 but the six year-old must improve rapidly.

Byrne Group

Aigle D’or gets the early attention ahead of this one and the 2m5f contest could be a bit of a toss-up considering the relatively deep field. AP McCoy has been quiet at Cheltenham this year and he could get things off in a big way should he score here with Nicky Henderson’s charge. You have to go back to 2008 for the last time this one scored at Cheltenham, however. This looks a prime race for a high-priced score so Tatenen gets the nod with Andrew Thornton up at 25/1. He hasn’t finished a race during the festival in his last two starts but he has improved a lot this year and looks sharp from a ratings-standpoint. 25/1 on the each-way looks a solid selection.

Kim Muir

The nightcap of the day is for amateur riders and that always makes a race a bit more unpredictable. The top-weight is Jonjo O’Neill’s Can’t Buy Time and he’ll really need to show more if he’s going to pull off a victory here. His last win came at Cheltenham in January of 2010 but he had AP up that day. Alderley Rover looks the progressive type and he’s just off his debut score on the chase circuit. Look for him as a strong play at 16/1. Cornish Sett also looks appealing at 33/1 and he will not struggle with the going or the distance. David Pipe’s Junior looks to be attracting the bulk of the attention at 6/1.