Event: Cheltenham Festival Day 3
When: March 17
Another seven outstanding races await racing fans at Cheltenham and watching on around the world with day three looking more open than the previous two days of the showcase jumps fixture.
The big race is the three-mile Grade 1 Ryanair World Hurdle and appears to be at the mercy of Colin Tizzard’s talented Thistlecrack (11/10) who has gone from strength-to-strength this term with impressive wins in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury and the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. It will take a good one to beat the expected favourite, but with Annie Power (4/1) still a possible contender – although far more likely to run in the Champion Hurdle on day one – last year’s winner Cole Harden (7/1) reportedly coming back to his best, and Paul Nicholls’ talented Saphir Du Rheu (10/1) in opposition, victory for Tizzard’s star is far from a certainty.
Contenders and Betting Tips
The other feature event of the day is the two-mile-five-furlong Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, a contest that has any number of possible winners with many of the ante-post principals also entered in other races at the fixture. It might be wise to wait until the final declaration stage to get involved in this race as it appears betting firms are as much in the dark over who will run as are the punters.
A perfect example of this is the range of opinions reflected in the current odds about Willie Mullins‘ Vautour, 4/5 with some firms, but 5/1 against with others! This massive odds disparity reflects the confusion that currently reigns in this market. If he does run then the superb Vautour would be hard to beat, but in his absence the likes of fellow Irish raider Road to Riches (9/2) trained by Noel Meade, Paul Nicholls’ admirable grey Al Ferof (11/2) and Henry de Bromhead’s progressive Smashing (10/1) could be the punters’ main choices.
At 20/1 David Pipe’s 2014 Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste could be worth a second glance as he ran well enough on his recent outing in Grade 1 company at Ascot and is reported to have benefitted from a successful breathing operation.
Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase
Day three starts with the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase over the same trip as the Ryanair Chase. Fans of British trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will be hoping his Bristol de Mai (4/1) can build on some impressive performances already this campaign, including the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices Chase last time out, and a win for the popular locally–based handler would bring the house down.
Among his chief rivals is the Jonjo O’Neill-trained More of That (5/1), winner of the 2014 World Hurdle and back in action this term with two effortless wins in lesser novice chase company. It’s a big ask for him to step up so steeply in grade and score, but the JP McManus-owned gelding oozes class and could be a tough nut to crack.
Outlander (11/2) could be the pick of Willie Mullins’ entries for this race having looked smart when completing a hat trick at Leopardstown last month in Grade 1 company, while the County Carlow trainer could also run Black Hercules (10/1), another who has already shown good form in this sphere. Philip Hobbs rarely leaves the Festival without a winner and his Garde la Victoire (9/1) is a class act who could run well in his bid for a seasonal four-timer.
Paul Nicholls does is not featured as a favorite, but Betfair presents his best horses of the day:
Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final
The three-mile Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final is often one of the strongest betting heats of the week with a mass of horses fancied for what is usually an eye catching cavalry charge. They’re currently betting around 8/1 the field with most firms making Charles Byrnes’ Leave at Dawn the market leader after a very promising effort last time when fifth in a qualifier for this race at Leopardstown Christmas meeting. He has won before at the Cheltenham track.
Others to consider include Nicky Henderson’s unexposed Cup Final (10/1), a winner at Musselburgh recently, Harry Fry’s vastly improved Unowhatimeanharry (14/1), who is on a five-timer, Charlie Longsdon useful Our Kaempfer (14/1), and Dr Richard Newland’s improving Western Warrior (25/1). Many firms will offer five places for each-way bets so it is certainly worth shopping around for the best value.
The other big handicaps on day three are the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, and the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase (for amateur riders) both of which are hugely competitive. Day three includes a Grade 2 mares’ novice hurdle for the first time, and the word is that Willie Mullins’ Limini (10/11) is the yard’s banker of the day and could give the Irish something to shout about on St Patrick’s Day.
Cheltenham Festivals Daily Reviews
– Day #1
– Day #2
– Day #4
 cheltenham-festival.co.uk, Cheltenham Festival Day 3 Schedule, 2016