What a start for the blog!
Okay, I didn't post a wager for the 1st race won by the odds-on ENVOI ALLEN, but I did write this "The unbeaten Grade 1 winner will prove difficult to beat, and it may pay to combine the fav with his stablemate Easywork, for a Gordon Elliott one-two" - the Exacta paid £9.60 to a £1 stake. It pays to read the blog!
Copperhead was disappointing, but not as disappointing as Defi Du Seuil.
In the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, again I didn't post a wager, and again I provided a gem of advice; "If you want to have a wager, perhaps the Gordon Elliott trained BLACK TEARS might oblige as this mare ran a cracker at Leopardstown on the 2nd Feb, and then followed up with a good run in a Grade 2 hurdle. Could be under the radar." Black Tears ran 2nd @ 12/1.
Finally, the blog selection EASYSLAND ensured that we go into the 3rd day £15 up after he won well in the X-Country Chase - I did write that you might not find an easier 7/2 winner this week!
Onto today, and the 3rd day of the Cheltenham Festival is my favourite, because I am usually there (I will be today), and I've found some good winners over the years, especially in the handicaps.
The day opens with a really decent novice chase.
1:30 Marsh Novices Chase (Grade 1) over 2-mile & 4-furlongs
A really strong race, and one in which Graded race-winning form is important. Race-fav Itchy Feet ticks the boxes having won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown LTO, and he was also 3rd in the Supreme Hurdle last year. If Faugheen wins there wont be a dry eye in the house. We will know more about his chance after watching Allaho in the RSA on Wed.
Melon was a top-class hurdler and could certainly be the best of these, but he flopped LTO and has yet to run over this trip as a chaser. For me ITCHY FEET should be the 7/4 fav and, as such,odds of 4/1 look mighty generous.
ITCHY FEET: £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
2:10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle over 3-mile
A front-runner that stays, that's the ideal horse for this race, and I can't see one that fits the bill. I'm tempted by Third Wind as trainer Hughie Morrison has done really well with a small string of hurdlers and bumpers, but this would be a step into the unknown stamina-wise for him. A horse that looks very interesting is TOUT ES PERMIS trained by Noel Meade who has sent only 3 horses over for the Festival, and this is the best of them. Rated OR155 as a chaser, he runs off OR136 in this hurdle and we know he stays 3-mile, travels well, and Meade has put a talented 7lb claimer on. I've been reminded that Meade has a poor Cheltenham record, but there is a lot to like about this horse, and there is plenty of 20/1 about this horse who could give you a good run for your money.
2:50 Ryanair Chase over 2-mile 4-furlongs & 127 yards
One of my favourite races.
There has been a huge gamble on A Plus Tard, who won the Novice H'Cap Chase over 2m4f last year in a canter, so (on his day) he's a decent horse, but he will need to improve 7lb on that run to win this. I think he will meet his match in MIN who was unlucky to be up against Altior over 2-miles and steps up in trip. He's won Grade 1's over 2m4f at Aintree and Punchestown and he can win again here. Frodon ran the race of his life to win this last year, and he may have to do the same again this time - I'm not sure he will, but the horse that beats him will surely win. What's in the favour of Frodon is that he stays 3-mile at Cheltenham and he could just run this field ragged.
Riders Onthe Storm is the new kid on the block. When he won at Ascot LTO my immediate thought was that he'd follow up in this, but now I think he will need to find another 7lb of improvement to win. The others look outclassed at this trip and it will be a huge surprise if they are involved.
For me, A Plus Tard is a false fav, and the true fav should be MIN on 7/4 which makes MIN the value wager. Frodon is the only runner that I can see beating MIN and so a saver wager on him is worthwhile as he's 5/1.
MIN : £10 win @ 5/2 and FRODON : £2 win @ 5/1 (odds on both horses are generally available)
3:30 The Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-mile
Paisley Park won this last year and there is nothing to suggest that he won't do it again, except that I think he will be pushed all the way by not one, but two horses - Summerville Boy, who chased him home in the Cleeve Hurdle over 3-mile in January; and Penhill, winner of this race in 2018. The thing is, will either of them be able to beat him? As the ground is soft/heavy which will favour PAISLEY PARK then likely not, and though this might suggest a forecast wager opportunity, I'm expecting Summerville Boy and Penhill to fade in the run-in and a solid 3-miler like Bacardys might well stay-on to take the runners-up spot. Willie Mullins would not send this horse for this if he didn't think it had a chance of being placed, and while he runs Penhill thatmay be more on sentiment.
4:10 The BA & M Stable Plate Handicap Chase over 2-mile & 4-furlongs & 127 yards
As always, a tough handicap to fathom.
Simply The Bett is the fav as he won the C&D h'cap here on Trials Day in January beating Imperial Aura who won his handicap on Tuesday. Recent winning form is a good sign, and Oldgrangewood loves it round here, but he ran in this race as a 7yo off the same OR147 rating and was pulled-up. Another old favourite is Spiritofthegames who was 3rd in this off OR147 last year, he's now only 2lb higher, he must be in the frame. Another LTO winner is Springtown Lake who was 5th in a h'cap chase here (won by A Plus Tard) last year off OR141, he's a better horse now. the mare Happy Diva won here in November off OR142 and isn't out of it off 7lb higher.
A tricky race, and I keep coming back to SPIRITOFTHEGAMES who was unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped Cepage LTO who held-up that form on Tuesday in the 3m1f h'cap and while 2lb up in the handicap on last year, he's carrying 3lb less weight on his back.
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES: £5 eachway @ 16/1 (available generally, 5th odd a place 1st-5)
4:50 Mares' Novice Hurdle over 2-mile 1-furlong
Not a race I usually look at, but the front-3 in the market look like providing the winner of this. The fav Minella Melody beat 3rd-fav Colreevy when they met on 25Jan, and though on a 1lb worse terms, it is difficult to see colreevy reversing the placings over this furlong-shorter trip. So that points the finger at CONCERTISTA trained by Willie Mullins (as is Colreevy). The form of her run when 3rd to Black Tears on 02Feb was confirmed when that horse ran 2nd in the Coral Cup h'cap off 8lb higher. It looks like Concertina is coming to her peak again for this race, as she was just beaten a short-head in this race in 2019. She can win this, and odds of 4/1 look fair.
CONCERTISTA: £5 win @ 4/1
5:30 The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir h'cap Chase over 3-mile 2-furlongs
One of my favourite races and don't forget it is for amateur riders. Punters have no cottoned-on that only the best amateurs can win this, and the usual suspects are all on the market leaders: JJ Codd (Le Breuil), Derek O'Connor (Champagne Platinum), William Biddick (Deise Aba), PW Mullins (Fitzhenry). I cannot see Le Breuil repeating his win in the NH Chase last year, in this. His form this year isn't close to what's required. Deise Aba won well LTO on 01Feb at Sandown, and looks to be on the upgrade, and a 7lb hike to OR142 may not stop this 7yo. The Irish-trained Fitzhenry has been knocking on the door of a h'cap win in Ireland all season, and looks most likely to be placed. This trip will test the stamina of Champagne Platinum, so odds of 4/1 look a bit tight. The partnership of Greatrex and McParlan teamed-up to win this with Missed Approach in 2018, and they have BOB MAHLER a LTO winner over 4m1f, so stamina is no issue, and Bob Mahler is treading the same path. He also won a 3-mile h'cap chase here last April so handles the course, he's a good jumper and should be there at the finish, he's 18/1 with Bet365 and Bet Victor.
BOB MAHLER: £5 eachway @ 18/1 (5th odds a place 1st-5 with BetVictor)
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Thursday, 12 March 2020
Cheltenham Festival - Day 3 (Thursday)
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