Cheltenham Festival Day 3

Day 2 didn’t quite live up to the standard of the first day in terms of winners, luckily Samcro produced what he’d promised for so long and announced himself as the new superstar, landing an antepost punt in the process. The Last Samuri was backed off the boards but could unfortunately only manage third. Douvan looked like he’d never been away in the Champion Chase, travelling powerfully and jumping fluently until coming down at the fourth, it’s a massive shame that we didn’t get to see the conclusion as he surely would have given Altior a race, hopefully we get a rematch in the not too distant future.

JLT Novices’ Chase

The ground has very much come in favour of Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort here, a dual winner on soft this season including the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown last time when showing a good attitude to get the better of Cyrname who has won Grade 2’s either side of that contest. Connections were second in this with Top Notch last season and they’ll go close again this year. I do think Finian’s Oscar will be rejuvenated by the wind operation and first time cheekpieces but I wouldn’t be mad on the conditions for him here but I think he’ll go well, along with Modus who can prove he’s worthy of a place in the line up.

ADVICE – Terrefort 2pts Win (4/1)

Pertemps Final

The hardest race of the day to try and solve in my view, Louis’ Vac Pouch has claims for all to see and he wouldn’t be a surprise winner but he’s probably short enough in a race as open as this so I’ll likely take a stab at a couple of big prices each way. Boite was still bang in contention in the Grade 2 Rendlesham when falling three out last time and is still unexposed over staying trips. Whataknight is interesting at huge price back down to his last winning mark although this ground may not be ideal. Connetable has been running well this season without getting his head in front and Forza Milan was behind Louis’ Vac Pouch at Aintree but will likely give a good account in a first time tongue tie.

Ryanair Chase

Un De Sceaux will relish these conditions and even though there are potential doubts about his stamina, I think he’ll have this lot in trouble a long way out and will retain his title. If Cue Card isn’t feeling the effects of his cracker in the Ascot Chase then he will probably chase the favourite home. Frodon is consistent and loves the track, but I can’t see him being a match for Un De Sceaux.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Conditions may not be ideal for Supasundae given the doubts about him staying the 3 miles, but he ran well behind Apple’s Jade over the distance earlier in the season and won the Irish Champion Hurdle on a testing surface so I’ve hope that he’ll be alright, plus I’ve liked him for the race for some time so I won’t desert him. Wholestone is a horse I have a lot of time for and adores the track, he’ll travel well and if not tiring on the ground he should be bang there at the last. I can see them going a good clip here and I’ve got a feeling that might just suit Augusta Kate at a massive price coming from off the pace. Her form on testing ground is good and her second to Presenting Percy last time has worked out very well, particularly in the RSA yesterday and as the third won a Grade 2 next time. She would need a career best to be involved here, but if on a going day it doesn’t cost much to find out if she’s up to it.

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

The Storyteller was one of my leading fancies for the festival last season before he picked up an injury and I’m hoping he can redeem himself in this. He came up short in the Grade 1 Flogas last time but he’s got strong form and has plenty of potential dropped to handicap company for Gordon Elliott, who had a three-timer yesterday. King’s Socks absolutely stinks of a handicap plot by David Pipe and it would be no surprise whatsoever if he was to make a mockery of his handicap mark here, on his second to Footpad in France he looks like he could well do. At prices Traffic Fluide is interesting off 145 given that this time last year he was sixth in the Champion Chase and Guitar Pete has been in good form recently, winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at the track in December. Just 5lbs higher here and with Nicky Richards’ horses running well he can give a good account.

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Laurina is a very warm order and understandably so, she’s looked well above average in her runs to date and realistically she probably just wins, but 8/13 is pretty skinny. I backed Cap Soleil antepost and think she’s very good but she’s up against it with Laurina here and she’s only small so conceding weight to the majority of the field isn’t ideal. The each way or betting without the favourite play for me here is Countister, a dual Group 2 winner on the flat she possesses plenty of ability and has proven herself on soft ground. Second on her debut for Nicky Henderson at Newbury, she travelled really well before tiring behind Cap Soleil but that was her first run for over a year and she was entitled to come on plenty for that.which she duly did at Doncaster, beating a pair of subsequent winners easily. They went no pace at Sandown in her last race which didn’t suit her but she still managed to win after Ainchea came down at the last and she holds solid claims back amongst her own sex.

ADVICE – Countister (Without Laurina) 1pt Win (7/1)

Kim Muir Challenge Cup

The one I like to run a big race here is The Young Master, he goes on any ground and was sixth in the Ultima last season of 150 and is a huge 15lbs lower in a weaker race this time around. He hasn’t quite hit the heights so far this campaign but I can’t ignore the handicap mark and in a race for amateur jockeys having a Gold Cup winning rider on board in Sam Waley-Cohen is a big positive. Missed Approach ran an absolute blinder in the 4 miler last season when second to Tiger Roll under the same jockey as he is partnered with today and went well under top weight in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January. So those are my two against the field!

ADVICE – The Young Master 1pt Each Way (16/1)

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