Day three of Cheltenham Festival brings with it more excitement to match the opening two days of the event.
Cheltenham has already witnessed its fair share of surprises – no more so than in the Champion Hurdle where none of the three outstanding horses – Apple’s Jade, Laurina and reigning champion Buveur D’Air – failed to place.
Day three of Cheltenham Festival could provide the same level of drama in the leading events of the day, including the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase. We’ll now break down our tips for all the races.
JLT Novices’ Chase
The first race of day three promises to be an open contest. Phillip Hobbs has the favourite ahead of the race in the Defi Du Seuil, who won the Triumph Hurdle last year. His charge also triumphed in his last outing in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, defeating Lostintranslation by three-quarters of a length. However, the Irish-bred horse had claimed the win in the previous meeting between the two competitors in the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
There is little to choose from between the rivals, although Hobbs’ charge did defeat Topofthegame in the Heavitree Brewery PLC Novices’ Chase in Exeter in December. It should be another close race between the two horses, while Vinndication could also make a charge. He had reeled off six wins on the bounce before his defeat at Sandown Park. Take Defi Du Seuil at 11/43.75+2752.752.75-0.36 in a close contest at Bet365.
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
Day three continues with another open race, although the favourite Sire De Belais has risen the top without producing an elite performance of late. Gordon Elliott’s charge does not have a victory under his belt and finished sixth in the Leopardstown Pertemps Final. Samburu Shujaa has good value in the race and has won his last two races, producing wins at Chepstow.
He has not faced a great deal of high-quality competition and has not appeared at Cheltenham before, which raises a couple of concerns. Iain Williams’ First Assignment is in the frame as well, boasting two wins at Cheltenham Racecourse in 2018. Aaron Lad is also one to watch, arriving at the race in prime form. Dr Richard Newland will have his charge ready for the contest and at 14/115.00+140014.0014.00-0.07 could be a surprise winner with Bet365.
This race could deliver one of the most dramatic outcomes of the week. There are several horses capable of winning the crown. Monalee was considered for the Gold Cup, but Henry De Bromhead opted for the Ryanair Chase. His charge finished off the pace of Presenting Percy last season in the RSA Novices’ Chase, but has bounced back well with a couple of solid performances, including a win last time out in the Red Mills Chase.
Road to Respect lost out by a short head to Bellshill at the Irish Gold Cup at the start of February. He finished fourth in the Gold Cup last term and has a dominant win at the Down Royal Champion Chase under his belt this term.
Footpad was outstanding last season, winning the Arkle Chase with a fine run. However, he has been in patchy form over the course of the campaign, falling at the Poplar Square Chase and finishing second in the Paddy Power Chase. Frodon is also in impressive form, having won the Trial Cotswold Chase. However, we’re going to pluck for Monalee at 4/15.00+4004.004.00-0.25 with Bet365.
The absence of defending champion Penhill has opened up the contest, although one rise has been on the rise since his last appearance at Cheltenham Festival. Paisley Park finished in 16th place in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle last season with a lacklustre performance.
Since then he has reeled off four wins on the bounce, producing a dominant victory at the Cleeve Hurdle. It is often said that the race is a dress rehearsal for the Stayers’ Hurdle. A similar performance from Paisley Park would secure the crown.
There’s not a great deal of quality in the field to stop him. Veteran runner Faugheen could be an interesting horse to monitor, while Supasundae has been the nearly horse. Kilbricken Storm has won his two races at Cheltenham, including the Albert Bartlett. He could be worth a shout on an each-way punt. However, Paisley Park is the one to back at odds of 6/42.50+1501.501.50-0.67 with 888Sport.
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
The later races of the day provide difficulty in selecting winners due to the nature of the handicap meets. Janika had success in France under Guy Cherel and has recorded a couple of second-place finishes in England since transferring into Nicky Henderson’s yard.
Willie Mullins has won the event three times in a row, although the stunning loss by Benie Des Dieux on the final jump in the Mares’ Hurdle has proven that his charges are not infallible in these races. Epatante is the bookmakers’ favourite for the event out of Henderson’s yard. She has won both of her races in England with ease and has the raw potential needed to thrive at Cheltenham. De Bromhead’s Sinoria has won back-to-back races, but has not been imperious on the track.
Posh Trish is intriguing given that she has won her last three meets, although the standard of competition has been up-and-down. My Sister Sarah is the Mullins horse to watch. She has won three of her four races, including her last one at Fairyhouse. She hasn’t competed in England, but given Mullins’ history back her at 16/117.00+160016.0016.00-0.06 with Bet365.
Kim Muir Challenge Cup
The race brings an end to the penultimate day of Cheltenham Festival. The field in the contest is inconsistent to say the least. Measureofmydreams has been installed as the favourite, although his last win came in 2016 and his last appearance at Cheltenham was a 13th-place finish in the Ultima Handicap Chase.