The third day of the festival sees the best stayers do batlle and with the ground softer than many would have expected there could be some surprise results.
JLT Novices’ Chase
The opening race on the third day of the festival looks to be a match between old advisories Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation. The pair have met twice with Lostintranslation coming out best in the Dipper and then Defi Du Seuil gained revenge in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles when they last met. It’s unlikley that there will be much between them again but I’ll side with Lostintranslation who’s always looked every bit a chaser but will need the rain to stay away.
Gordon runs Mengli Khan in this and th form of his Irish Arkle run looks much better following the run of Us And Them on Monday. He ran very well in the Supreme last season and if he gets his jumping together then he could be the each-way value in the race.
Selection: Mengli Khan
Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
In what’s a typically open looking race, the logical starting place would have been Davy Russell who has ridden the winner of this for the past three seasons but to muddle the picture further he’s not riding in the race. Anyway enough talking about things that aren’t happening and let’s look at some of this year’s runners. Sire Du Berlais has always been a big talking horse even though we have only seen him on seven occasions. Gordon’s charge finished fourth in the race last year of a mark of 144 and with only one pound higher to shoulder this race and the addition of cheekpieces, he’s my idea of the winner.
First Assignment was an impressive winner at the November meeting and there could be a little more wrigggle room off his current mark but I think he needs good ground to take advantage of it.
Jessica Harrington runs two in here but its the top weight Walk To Freedom that seems to have the best chance. He’s won on heavy ground and was a fine second in a qualifier at Leopardstown back in December. Jessie has resisted the temptation to run him since and he should go close.
Selection: Sire Du Berlais
This is a cracking race and possibly one of the most competitive of the week. Balko Des Flos is returning in a bid to retain his crown but he’s been disappointing since then. Looking at the field it’s hard to rule out any of the runners with any great certainty. Un De Sceaux won this back in 2017 and will appreciate very drop of rain that falls. As the beting suggests there isn’t much to seperate fellow Irish raiders Monalee and Road To Respect but I’d marginally side with Noel Meades gelding who’s been slightly unluck this seasona nd has got good course form.
Footpad look likley to go off favourite and although he was an ultra impressive of the Arkle last season, I’m not sure how much he beat andI’d be willing to take him on based on this seasons form.
Others to note include Frodon, Coney Island and festival winner The Storyteller.
Selection: Road To Respect
The name on many punters and racing fans alike lips is Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park, who holds the position of ante-post favourite for the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle. However, he has the Irish to beat in the Cheltenham Festival feature.
However, he will have some stats to overcome as all five of the last six winners were returned bigger than 7/1.
With a list of well-known horses, it could be an open ball game for such an open race. The very mild winter Britain has experienced will also lead to some surprises.
Faugheen “The Machine”
Faugheen fits quite a few of the stats in terms of a winner. The Willie Mullins-trained son of Germany may be now eleven years of age, but has only run 19 times to date over hurdles.
The Rich Ricci owned gelding however is coming off the back of his run at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival where he and Ruby Walsh took a dramatic fall at the second last. The Stayers Hurdle is his first return to the track since then.
Last season’s runner-up
Jessica Harrington trained Supasundae to finish second in this very contest in 2018. Connections of the now nine-year-old, son of Galileo, will be hopeful he can return this year to do all the running. On his last outing at the Dublin Racing Festival last month he finished second in the Irish Champion Hurdle. One to certainly consider backing at an each-way ante-post price.
Black Op, trained by Tom George has been in consistent form and the eight-year-old finished second to Samcro at last year’s Festival in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. He put up a great performance that day but just couldn’t quicken enough.
Kilbricken Storm was an impressive winner of the Albert Bartlett last season and followinga dissapointing run over fences, connections have decidee to revert back to hurdles and he could be the surprise package.
Brown Advisory Plate
French-import Janika has finished runner-up on both British starts thus far and with the soft underfoot conditions likley to suit then he must enter calculations. The only worry is the welter burden 11-12 he’ll have to carry around.
Ballyhill is a very likebale horse that wears his heart on his sleeve and jumps for fun. The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard has been firing on all cylinders this season and with winning course form and his front-running style likley to suit he could sneak into the places.
Another trainer that’s having a good season is Nick Williams and he runs Siruh Du Lac who beat the aforementioned Janika when last seen. The handicappper gave him seven pounds for that victory which may not be eought to halt his winning sequence.
Mares Novices’ Hurdle
This race is one of the newest races at the festival having been first run in 2016 and Willie Mullins has won all three renewals of the race. The master of Closutton is responsible for no fewer than seven runners this year. Ruby has picked My Sister Sarah who has won two of her tree starts over hurdles this far but it’s concerning that she’s yet to rce on anything worse than good to yeilding until now.
Of the other Mullins runners Elfile is very interesting, she’s the choice of Paul Townednwhoch may be a tip in itslef and she won her only start in Ireland at Punchestown and at the current huge odds, she coulde be an each-way play.
Nicky Henderson runs the hot favourite Epatante who’s unbeaten in two starts. Obviously you’d like for her to have some more experience but she’s looked mightly impressive on both occassions and has bags of potential.
Posh Trish has won her last three starts over hurdles and was a cosy winner of a listed event at Taunton when last season. Soft ground won’t be any issue for Paul Nicholls runner and she;ll be bang there at the finish.
Selection: Posh Trish
As with any of the amateur races it pays to side with some of the leading jockeys, with Jamie Codd the wining most rider in the race. Affectionatly called the “Coddfather” he partners the Gordon Elliott trained Measureofmydreams who has been the subject of a mini antepost gamble in the past week or so. The gamble was already building momentum but when Kevin Blake let loose how sweet Gordon was on his chances on a recent Cheltenham preview night the price took a further hit.
The now eleven year old has run three times at the festival wuh a third placing in the National Hunt chase the highlight. That run came off an 8 pound hgher mark and after showing his well being on his first star in nearly two years last month, then he holds stromg claims.
That was hs first run for Gordon Elliott and given how well Grdon does with all his horses really and the possibly leneicy of his current mark, Measureofmydreams could just be throw in here.
Amazingly Derek O’Connor has never won this race but looks to have a good chance of setting the record stratight here with his mount Any Second Now. Ted Walsh’s charge doesn’t win that often but ran a fine race to finish fifth in the Paddy Power and then finished third in a Grade 2 at Navan last month. He was a beaten favourite in the Close Brothers last season and must run well.
Owner Barry Connell has had some good days at Cheltenham and he’s got a live chnace here with Speaker Connolly who was third in a big handicap behind Whisperinthebreeze most recently. He’d appreciate the ground drying up slightly but even so he’s got a chance.
Of the others Its All Geusswork, Captain Chaos and No Comment all hold claims.