The half-time whistle has blown but there’s little time to dwell on what’s been a fascinating two days of racing at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
There are still 14 more races to get stuck into and day three’s fare looks every bit as captivating as the rest.
The JLT Novices’ Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the World Hurdle are the undoubted highlights but we’re not about to turn up our noses at the other contests, especially when they promise such fantastic returns.
But enough waffle. Here’s our St. Patrick’s Day Thursday Longshot Lucky 15…
14:10 – Pertemps Network Final – If In Doubt
The green and gold hoops of JP McManus’ assorted runners look set to dominate this contest but there’s one in particular who we’re especially keen on.
While If In Doubt perhaps failed to scale any dizzy heights over fences this hurdle contest looks right up his street.
An eye-catching last to front victory at Wincanton last time out hinted at a return to his best and we’re expecting even better to come.
14:50 – Ryanair Chase – Taquin Du Seuil
Vautour’s introduction to the Ryanair reckoning has thrown something of a curveball into the market but a welcome side-effect has been the value that’s filtered down elsewhere.
Make no mistake, as is customary this is a very competitive race but Taquin Du Seuil is one of those to keep in mind.
The 2014 JLT Novices’ winner was ninth in this contest this year but he can closer this time around.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge was an impressive winner at Warwick last time out, his first appearance in nearly a year, and he should strip even fitter in this contest.
15:30 – Ryanair World Hurdle – Cole Harden
Trainer Warren Greatrex has been pretty vocal in his defence of last year’s World Hurdle hero Cole Harden and rightly so.
Were it not for a series of disappointing performances throughout the winter then the defending champion would be a far shorter price.
But as it is he’s got it all to prove again and on his preferred ground we expect the talented seven-year-old to put on another bold show.
16:10 – Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate – Astracad
*NB. Original selection was La Vaticane, now a non-runner.
This is another of those tricky handicaps to unpick but we haven’t let that deter us.
For trends followers it’s worth noting that the average price of previous winners in the last 10 years has been 27-1 while 12 of the last 18 top-three finishers came from the bottom seven in the handicap.
Oh, and just to throw another stat in, 26 of the last 28 winners were rated no higher than 141.
Where does that lead us? To Cheltenham regular and the handily-handicapped, Astracad.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.