We are turning for home at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and day three presents us with a good chance for some more brilliant action at Prestbury Park. At the halfway stage it’s about even between bookies and the betting public so this could be make or break for the week.
Samcro to win
Marsh Chase (13.30)
The opening race features a Cheltenham legend who needs to defy trends to become one of the oldest-ever winners of a feature novice chase. He did just that at Leopardstown the Dublin Racing Festival when scoring an emotional win for connections.
Faugheen I think will go off close to favourite come the off. Currently a 5/1 shot, there will be plenty of sentimental money for him to win again. As impressive as he was that day, I have my fears that not even the great Willie Mullins can stop the aging process and he could be vulnerable to a few in here.
Itchy Feet gave Olly Murphy his first grade one winner at Sandown last month. Third in the Supreme last year, he is bound to be a pick plenty want to side with.
Samcro also deserves a mention here. Put in his place by Faugheen over Christmas, he has had well-documented health issues. That said, if he was right, he would surely take a hand in an event of this nature. His price and background coming into the race makes him to my mind a good win only bet; it will be the case he either goes close or will not even be in the mix at all.
At 6/1, I will back him to win again at the Cheltenham Festival.
Relegate to win
Pertemps Final (14.10)
A race we all enjoy trying to find the winner of, but rarely do many manage it. Last year we saw one of the best rides of the week as Barry Geraghty rode Sire Du Berlais to victory. He is reunited with him in this year’s renewal but off 152 he isn’t nearly as well handicapped and I am going to look elsewhere.
Relegate is my first choice. She has clearly had issues and is lightly raced. A winner of the Champion Bumper in 2018, she ran nicely when staying on well in her qualifier for this. Her jumping is my one concern but off 137 I have to have hope she has schooled better and should travel well in this race.
A Plus Tard (NAP)
Ryanair Chase (14.50)
The Ryanair delivers my nap of the week. A Plus Tard was one of the most impressive winners of the Festival last year and whilst that came in a handicap, he has progress to look one hell of a talent.
You could argue he would have been well placed to win the Champion Chase this year but this two-mile four race looks ideal. Not only is he a great bet to me for his attributes but in part down to the limited opposition.
Min to my mind has had many chances for Festival but bumped into Altior and been a tad unlucky and at nine, he has had perhaps his best chance. Frodon won a weaker renewal last year and Riders On the Storm for me had a hard race when winning in deep conditions at Ascot recently. A Plus Tard is the one that stands out to me as the bet of the week.
Paisley Park to win
Stayers’ Hurdle (15.30)
The Stayers holds one of the most popular bets of the week. Paisley Park returns to defend his crown and looks to hold every chance of becoming a legend in this distance.
Emma Lavelle has been mindful of him this season, skipping ascot in December when conditions weren’t ideal. Yet to lose in his last seven runs, he will extend that to eight with the minimum of fuss in a field with plenty looking inferior or with too many questions to answer to chance.
Simply The Betts to win
Festival Plate (16.10)
We have seen a big move in the market for Simply The Betts. Harry Whittington’s course and distance winner has seen his form franked earlier in the week and must have a great chance of continuing his brilliant form this season. At 7/2, he is only really a win bet proposition and I have been lucky enough to back him at bigger prices ante post.
My alternative selection is going to be La Bague Au Roi. She has been a brilliant mare for connections and steps into a handicap chase for the first time. Whilst she hasn’t been as good this season, off 149 she has to have a brilliant place chance with Richard Johnson on board for Warren Greatrex.
Concertisita – Each Way
Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle (16.50)
Minella Melody for Rachael Blackmore heads the betting and has to carry a penalty in this grade two race. As good as she has looked this season, I am slightly worried this could just prove enough to dent her chances of scoring for Henry De Bromhead. At the current price of 11/4, I can leave her and look to back Concertista each way.
Second on her debut for Willie Mullins in this race last year, she has gone well without winning this season. Black Tears beat her at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out and ran a brilliant race here yesterday in the Coral Cup. Today, Concertisita can at least make the frame again and challenge Minella Melody for the win.
Milan Native – Each Way
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir (17.30)
Gordon Elliott’s horses have been in good form this week and Milan Native can give each-way backers a great chance of ending the day with some profit. He makes his handicap debut on one of the biggest stages and has shown enough to my mind to be very competitive in this field.
He has a huge plus with Rob James booked to ride who is better than many in this amateur field.