Cheltenham Day 3 Betting Preview

1.30 – Marsh Novices’ Chase 

Easy Game was my pick for this after chasing home Faugheen but he is headed towards the RSA instead. In his absence, I am still backing the Willie Mullins’ second string here in the shape of Melon. His jumping hasn’t been particularly sleek to date, but I think he will be happier jumping with horses around him, just as he was over hurdles. He has posted good form at this meeting and if he could run up close to his hurdles form he would take plenty of beating. Itchy Feet has the strongest single piece of jumps form and deserves to head the market but hold up horses haven’t been seen to best advantage at the meeting so far. Midnight Shadow wasn’t far back at Sandown and could get much closer if this is run at a more even tempo.

Bet – Melon

2.10 – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle 

So many of these have been laid out for the contest and look extremely well handicapped. Third Wind is still a horse on the up after just 8 starts and arrives both fresh and potentially well handicapped stepping up to 3 miles for the very first time. Recent rainfall won’t have hurt his chance at all and he has snuck below the radar for his razor-sharp trainer. Of those at the front end of the market, The Elliott pair look extremely solid with The Storyteller my idea of the likeliest winner. Rapper is a progressive type and was only just behind Skandiburg over c&d last time, he gets a decent pull at the weights and is also progressing nicely.

Bet – Third Wind; saver Rapper.

2.50 – Ryanair Chase 

A belting race and either of the two favourites would have been right in the Champion Chase mix in the absence of Altior. I think A Plus Tard can deny Min a first festival win having looked a natural around these dimensions in handicap company a year ago. I think both and last year’s winner Frodon are vulnerable to my ante-post pick Riders Onthe Storm. He was on the way to being beaten at Ascot but must deserve credit for taking the race to and ultimately breaking odds on favourite Cyrname. He could still be on the upgrade and is a danger to all.

Bet – Riders Onthe Storm

3.30 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle 

Another race where I’m not inclined to change my long-term view. Paisley Park threatened to be the shortest-priced favourite of the week but the plunge on Benie Des Dieux and his defeat mean its hard to see his price contracting to that point. There are a limited number of dangers but Penhill, a previous winner of both this race and the Albert Bartlett must be in that group. He has for once enjoyed an injury-free run this season and has gradually improved with each start – shaping really nicely last time, I think he’s a fine each-way bet.

Bet – Penhill (E/W)

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4.10 – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase 

Imperial Aura’s impressive Tuesday win makes Simply The Betts look a well-handicapped horse and there’s no surprise his market price has contracted since then. I’m not rushing to oppose him but I think Robin Des Foret looks the best bet in the race at an each-way price. He has travelled into things ominously in each of his three starts this season (including over c&d back in December) but hasn’t been able to keep up the effort close home. He should be cherry ripe now after a minor wind operation and gets what are probably ideal conditions. Siruh Du Lac won his previous 4 handicaps prior to his November blowout including this race 12 months ago – perhaps he has yet another big win in him.

Bet – Robin Des Foret (E/W); saver Siruh Du Lac

4.50 – Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

I like the claims of the favourite Minella Melody here, she arrives in the best form, represents a yard that has clearly arrived in fine form and holds the Irish challengers based on collateral form. Concertista was only just touched off in this a year ago and has been gaining useful experience this season, she looks the next best of the Irish team. Floressa looks the best of the UK team and she is better than the form showed at Doncaster last time, but I think she will struggle to win despite the relatively modest opposition.

Bet – Minella Melody

5.30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase 

There has been a pile of cash for Champagne Platinum since he was declared for this race and he could be thrown in, but you’re taking a lot on trust. Plan Of Attack and Milan Native both look progressive and bring fine recent form in big handicaps to the table but I prefer their compatriot Go Another One at a lumpy price. Not sighted since October when he chased home Slate House here, that proved he can run to form on a soft surface and his career record of 9 wins and 7 seconds from 22 starts is particularly commendable – he can breakthrough at a higher level now. Trevor Hemmings has a pair of good contenders in Cloth Cap and Deise Aba – the former preferred at the prices.

Bet – Go Another One; saver Cloth Cap.

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